Stories of Impact
Oklahoma Watch uses a four-level system to identify stories of impact:
- Directly cause a change in laws, policies or practices.
- Directly influence the content or extent of public debate about an important policy or quality-of-life issue.
- Become a reference source or authority used by policymakers or other leaders in making decisions or recommendations.
- Directly inspire or provoke individuals to make a decision or modify their viewpoint.
We reported that Gov. Kevin Stitt’s nominee for secretary for veterans and military affairs led a company being accused in a lawsuit of violating federal labor laws by underpaying veterans. More than a week later, the nominee withdrew his name from being considered for the cabinet position.
Our investigation found that dozens of private schools offering tax-credit scholarships exclude disabled students from their posted policies against discrimination. In response, the state’s largest tax-credit scholarship fund told at least 60 schools to comply or be removed from the program.
Our report revealed that Oklahoma schools were “lunch shaming” students who had overdue meal accounts, stamping their hands and giving them a cold sandwich instead of a hot plate. In response, a church donated money to Tulsa schools to pay for all students’ meals, and an individual launched a GoFundMe campaign to pay meals for Oklahoma City students.
An exclusive revealed an overlooked Appeals Court ruling that found the state’s sodomy law doesn’t apply when the victim is unconscious. An uproar caused the legislature to quickly revise the law.
After our investigation found that each virtual charter school counts attendance differently, legislation was passed to revise attendance rules for online schools.
Facts unearthed in our 2014 investigative report on “dark money” were central elements in criminal charges filed in 2016 against the state schools’ superintendent. We were highlighted in the criminal affidavit.
Amid public outcry after Oklahoma Watch’s story, Gov. Mary Fallin directed the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to delay use of recently obtained portable card readers capable of freezing or seizing funds from prepaid debit cards.
An official in the governor’s office confirmed “Unprofitable Wells Now a Big Tax Break,” added momentum to a proposal, which passed, to cap this tax break in order to help plug the budget shortfall.
In direct response to an Oklahoma Watch story, the state school board voted to change the Department of Education policy to allow for release of graduation rates for all Oklahoma school districts, regardless of the size of the student body.
State Senator Kay Floyd says Oklahoma Watch’s 2014 story about homeless children was the tipping point in her deciding to propose a bill in the 2015 session, which passed to conduct a study of homeless students in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Watch followed up with another in-depth story in May 2015.
In response to an Oklahoma Watch inquiry, Norman police revived a probe into a wrongful-conviction rape case and charged a new suspect.
A public defender claims Oklahoma Watch’s report, “New Push to Allow Juvenile Competency Hearings,” helped in the successful effort to get the state legislature to permit court hearings to determine whether juvenile offenders are competent to stand trial.