Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist released a statement this morning in response to the March 25 vote by the Oklahoma State Board of Education regarding a four-year-old case involving charter school funding and local taxpayer dollars.
In a statement, Gist said:
We are deeply troubled that, largely under the feeble cloak of executive session, the Oklahoma State Board of Education unlawfully redistributed millions of local taxpayer dollars away from traditional public schools to charter schools. Their action was unethical and harmful to the children and families served by virtually every rural, suburban, and urban district in Oklahoma.
Based on their action, we must conclude that the State Board is indifferent to the harm their action inflicts on traditional schools. The State Board has once again prioritized the interests of charter organizations like EPIC, a virtual charter school under criminal investigation, over the health and sustainability of our system of public education. If this decision is allowed to stand, traditional schools will be forced to take precious resources from our children’s classrooms to further bolster EPIC’s private interests.
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. We owe a debt of gratitude to Board members Bradley and Flanigan and to State Superintendent Hofmeister for raising their voices in dissent.
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.