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Concerns Remain Over State Superintendent Charges

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Former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys has been involved with public education going back 35 years. Former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys has been involved with public education going back 35 years.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

"I will fight against these charges, but I will not be distracted," said a defiant State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister Thursday.

Those words from Hofmeister came in response to the revelation that Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater had charged her, and four others, with felonies related to her 2014 campaign. Hofmeister is alleged to have violated the law forbidding coordination between a candidate and a political action committee.

11/4/16 Related Story: Joy Hofmeister Enters 'Not Guilty' Plea On Charges Of Campaign Violations

Hofmeister insists she is not guilty and is pledging to continue in her role as the state's top education official. The question is, can she realistically carry out her duties as superintendent while also fighting a serious legal battle.

There are some who feel that's unlikely, given the gravity of the situation she faces.

"I don't think that the state of Oklahoma will be a better place if Joy Hofmeister is convicted of these charges and faces jail time on it," said former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys, "but that's what could happen."

Humphreys, who now develops commercial real estate, has been involved with public education going back 35 years, when he first served on a local school board. He heled push through the landmark MAPS for Kids, which rebuilt Oklahoma City's public schools, and now sits on the OU Board of Regents.

He thinks Hofmeister has been doing a good job, but worries about impact of the pending legal challenge.

"Will it interfere with her work? It can't help but do so," Humphreys said Friday in an interview.

Hofmeister is on the Board of Regents for the Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO), which met this morning in Oklahoma City. Hofmeister had to miss the meeting, in order to make an appearance in court.

But some educators don't see Hofmeister's decision to continue working as a problem. Ginger Tinney, Executive Director of Professional Oklahoma Educators, said, in a phone interview today, "Most educators like and respect her," and "Hopefully everything will be worked out and things will calm back down."

Humphreys says this isn't going to just go away, and hopes Hofmeister will sit down and try and work with the D.A.

"I think very highly of Joy Hofmeister and I think she has a great reputation and a great ability to work with people, in a really tough job," said Humphreys, "but this has put a cloud on her integrity, and her ability to do her job, and this cloud has to be removed, one way or another."

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