Oklahoma Watch will moderate a public forum on Tuesday with candidates for the upcoming Oklahoma City Public School Board election on April 6. The virtual forum will be held on Zoom starting at 6:30 p.m.
The event will be emceed by Mary Mélon, president and chief executive officer of The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
Oklahoma Watch Executive Director Ted Streuli will moderate a segment between board chair candidates Paula Lewis and Charles Henry.
Oklahoma Watch education reporter Jennifer Palmer will moderate a segment between district 1 candidates Brett Hayes and Carole Thompson and district 2 candidates Lori Bowman and James McHenry.
Board members serve a four-year term and are responsible for hiring and evaluating the superintendent, reviewing and approving the district’s budget, policymaking, planning and advocating for the district, one of the state’s largest with 37,344 students this year.
The event is free and open to the public. The board chair candidates will answer questions from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. and district 1 and 2 candidates from 7:15 to 7:45 p.m.
Voters district-wide will choose between incumbent Lewis and current board district 1 member Henry for chair.
Voters in district 1 will choose between Hayes and Thompson in a seat vacated by Henry when he decided to run for chair.
Voters in district 2 will choose between Bowman and McHenry; the current district 2 board member is not running for re-election.
About the Candidates
• Paula Lewis is the current OKCPS school board chair and founder of Quest Pediatric Therapy. Both of her children have attended OKCPS, one currently and one a graduate now serving in the army.
• Charles Henry is the current District 1 representative for OKCPS and a graduate of the district. He is a father of 3 children in the district.
• Brett Hayes is the director of behavioral health integration at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. He lives in Oklahoma City and has three children.
• Carole Thompson is a community tutor for adolescents and adults in the Oklahoma City community and former teacher and principal. She is a graduate of the district.
• Lori Bowman founded Bowman Strategies to collaborate with nonprofit and governmental organizations. Her two children attend Oklahoma City Public Schools.
• James McHenry is a father of four OKCPS graduates and has served in community roles in the PTA and community liaison at North Highlands Elementary. He also spearheaded efforts to establish Hope Center, a virtual learning academy at his church home to provide support and resources to students and families in response to COVID-19.
In the last weeks of the Oklahoma primary elections, outside groups have spent close to $10 million to support or oppose candidates running for office. Some of that spending has far outpaced campaign spending by the candidates themselves.
A 52-page affidavit details a complicated, criminal enterprise devised by Epic Charter Schools’ co-founders David Chaney and Ben Harris, and former CFO Josh Brock. The three were arrested and booked into the Oklahoma County Detention Center Thursday.
While Oklahoma County commissioners have long considered building a new jail facility, this marks the first time the issue has advanced to the election ballot.