Oklahoma House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson, D–Oklahoma City, on Tuesday delivered a formal request to create a special bipartisan House committee to investigate whether there a grounds to impeach Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters. 

“We have been patient and have cautiously pursued other paths to gather information for transparency and accountability because we respect our democratic process and understand that Mr. Walters is an elected official,” Munson said.

Munson said while the tipping point for the party’s decision was the inflammatory language aimed at Tulsa Public Schools last week, a culmination of controversial events led to the announcement Tuesday.

The minority leader cited Walter’s involvement in mismanaging federal relief money intended to help families with educational expenses during the coronavirus pandemic. An investigation by The Frontier and Oklahoma Watch found money was spent on recreational products including video games, home appliances and Christmas trees. 

State Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, said she received a call from a grandmother whose granddaughter was pulled out of school due to concerns about her safety. She said those fears came from bomb threats made after Walters shared a doctored video on social media showing a librarian entering a classroom with books, and a caption reading, “POV: Teachers in your state are dropping like flies but you are still just not quite finished pushing your woke agenda.”

Provenzano said her party’s response is tangential to the public outrage. 

“I’m receiving daily text messages, phone calls, and my email inbox is full, as are those of my fellow representatives,” Provenzano said. “It means that we do something about this chaos and uncertainty occurring not just in Tulsa, but across the state and plaguing our public school system.”

Munson said she has not discussed the decision with House Republicans, but said the party’s first goal is to create a bipartisan investigation into Walters.

Ainsley Martinez was an intern through the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation. She studies professional media at the University of Oklahoma, specializing in data visualizations. Contact Ainsley at amartinez@oklahomawatch.org or (405) 822-0403. Follow her on Twitter at @ainsmartinez.

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