State Superintendent Ryan Walters brought this stack of books to a Board of Education meeting on March 23. He has said schools are providing access to obscene materials but has not provided proof. (Jennifer Palmer/Oklahoma Watch.)

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When KFOR reporter Kaylee Olivas called out state Superintendent of Schools Ryan Walters for dragging out a public records request for more than 100 days, education journalists around the state could no doubt relate.

Public records are an important tool for journalists — part of our lifeblood, really. But the state’s Open Records Act doesn’t contain a time limit for response, only the standard “prompt and reasonable.” Olivas asks how transparent can the agency really be if it takes months to provide answers?

Her request is for evidence that the department has found inappropriate reading materials in schools since Walters took office in January. Walters claims there is pornography and indoctrination in classrooms and rooting that out was one of his main campaign promises.

Other media outlets say they, too, are facing lengthy delays. Oklahoma Watch has filed more than a dozen records requests with the department since January, and while some have been fulfilled, were still waiting on others, including the resumes of top administrators hired by Walters and financial records including contracts and purchase orders.

I discussed the issues on this week’s podcast if you want to give it a listen.

In other education news, the department’s press secretary, Justin Holcomb is resigning from the agency after just five months. He earned at least $130,000 a year, payroll records show.

Have a story tip, question, or comment? I welcome your thoughts via email or direct message.

— Jennifer Palmer

Recommended Reading

  • Oklahoma doesn’t have enough school counselors, and the state has no plans to replace the emergency COVID-19 funds schools used to hire more. That three-year program ends after the coming school year. [The Frontier]
  • Students’ progress in math and reading stalled last year, new data shows. The hope was that by now, students would be learning at an accelerated clip, but it didn’t happen last year. [The New York Times]
  • Superintendent Ryan Walters struggles to explain how the Tulsa Race Massacre can be taught without violating the state’s prohibition on critical race theory. [MSNBC]

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