March 29, 2021

What Was the Reaction to Board’s Charter School Funding Settlement?

Inside a science classroom at Santa Fe South High School, a public charter school that would be able to tap into new funding streams under a recent legal settlement. Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch

Happy Monday, Readers! I was working on a story about the state Board of Education’s settlement in a four-year-old charter school funding lawsuit which is why you’re receiving this newsletter on Monday. You can read that story, which I wrote with multimedia journalist Whitney Bryen, here. The settlement, if implemented, will give charter schools a share of local and state tax revenue they don’t currently receive. Before the vote, Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister delivered a strong rebuke, stating that “Based on legal advice, this violates Oklahoma statute, Oklahoma constitution, and the oath that I swore to uphold when I took office and I do not support this nor do I think the board should vote to approve this settlement, which came in yesterday.” The governor and leaders of the state’s two urban school districts weighed in today.

  • “I commend the state Board of Education for its lawful decision to uphold current statute and affirm that charter schools are public schools. This decision is the right one for Oklahoma students,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt.
  • “I am more than concerned about the route that it appears the board took to achieve a desired outcome. It lacks the transparency that we should all expect, appears to have been pre-planned and causes me to have serious doubts about the State Board’s ability to advocate for the interests of the 90% of Oklahoma students who attend traditional non-charter public schools.” OKCPS Superintendent Sean McDaniel
  • “Oklahomans should be alarmed by the State Board’s willingness to engage in governance by fiat and by the intentional subversion of the will of the state’s voters and local control,” said Deb Gist, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools. “We demand that the board swiftly rescind its unlawful action. If it does not, we will enlist the support of school districts across the state to pursue any and all available actions.”

Also, Oklahoma Watch is moderating a forum tomorrow for the Oklahoma City school board candidates. It starts at 6:30 and is open to the public. Join us on Zoom.

—Jennifer Palmer

Oklahoma Watch to Moderate OKC School Board Candidate Forum

Voters can hear from candidates via Zoom starting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Here’s how to register.

How the State Board Abruptly Settled Charter School Lawsuit Against Legal Advice

State Education Superintendent Joy Hofmeister called it “an impatient move to get what you want.”

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