State Board Of Education Meeting: What Was Discussed?

The Oklahoma State Board of Education had it's monthly meeting on Thursday, and discussed several topics of interest.

Thursday, September 28th 2023, 10:43 pm

By: News 9


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The Oklahoma State Department of Education is set for its monthly meeting Thursday morning with a lengthy agenda.

Click here to watch the Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting

The meetings have been contentious for months, with large crowds showing up to make their voices heard.

Several items of interest are currently on the agenda, but three topics stand out above the rest.

Possible Suspension Of Mustang Teacher's Teaching Certification

First, the board is discussing suspending the teaching certification of a former Mustang teacher accused of raping a former student.

Mustang teacher Raymond Garner was arrested on Feb. 1 after a victim came forward detailing a long-term unwanted relationship with Garner, Mustang Police said.

RELATED: Former Mustang Teacher Accused Of Raping Student Out On Bond

The investigation into Garner began in January when a school resource officer notified police about rumors involving Garner.

The rumors involved a science teacher and a student having sexual conduct "hundreds of times" between 2014-17. 

According to the OSBI, the alleged acts occurred both at the school and at Garner's home in Oklahoma City.

Alleged Kingfisher Hazing

A second item on the list involves an alleged hazing and abuse case of Kingfisher High School’s football coach.

Court records say a Kingfisher football player, known in the case as John Doe, is claiming he was violently attacked and bullied, all at the direction of the team’s coach.

Both Ryan Walters and the district are named in a state supreme court suit alleging decades of cover-up, and the board will talk about law firm representation Thursday morning.

Tulsa Accreditation Status

Walters proposed making changes to the states accreditation process, as the department is investigating the accreditation status of two Oklahoma schools. 

While it wasn’t an action item today- Walters says he wants it on the agenda for the board to vote on changing the accreditation system during its October meeting. 

Walters said he wants to include academic achievement and student outcome in the accreditation process.

The state department just announced it has launched an investigation in western heights accreditation status - after walters criticized the district for hiring a principal who works as a drag queen outside of school. 

Tulsa public schools has also been in the spotlight for months - as the district's accreditation status continues to be challenged. 

What Are The Cited Deficiencies At Tulsa Public Schools?

The two concerns the State School board are "misuse of finances" and inadequate financial disclosures. Tulsa Public School was Accredited With a Warning prior to Thursday's vote. The new status means that they are in better standing but still have to meet expectations set by the State Board.

Walters, under his TPS Improvement Plan, said he wants to see the district re-orient finances to serve students, increase reading proficiency scores to the state average, and get TPS schools off the F-List.

TPS Accreditation

TPS said it is facing two district-wide deficiencies and three warnings for individual schools. The TPS district was found to have been in violation of House Bill 1775 last year, which regulates how sex and gender are taught in classrooms. 

Related: 4 Tulsa City Councilors Write Open Letters About TPS Accreditation Issue

The state's Executive Director of Accreditation, Ryan Pieper, outlined some of the most aggressive actions the state has taken against schools in recent history when it comes to accreditation, saying students are in a better place today because of it. 

The former charter school SeeWorth Academy lost its accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year after the state said it wasn't complying with federal programs, and it impacted graduation credits.

Budget Vote

The board unanimously passed an almost $4 billion budget… a $47 million decrease from last year.

The board also voted unanimously to pass what Walters called “the most aggressive tutoring plan for the students behind in reading and math- in the whole country.”

He calls it the back to basics plan, appropriating $10 million for a teacher signing bonus.

-$38 million towards early literacy

-$11 million for math and science

-$800,000 for civics.

Those funds will go towards tutoring, training, workforce and more.

This budget will head to OMES and then the state legislature for their approval.

Plan To Improve Reading & Math Scores 

The State Board of Education also passed a new program to improve reading and math scores. The state struggles in areas of education, but leaders plan to make an improvement. 

Outside the Oklahoma State Department of Education, people argued over what they believe children need to know. However, Oklahoma’s ranking for child literacy can’t be argued.  

“The status quo in Oklahoma Education has failed,” said State Superintendent Ryan Walters, at Thursday’s State Board of Education meeting. 

Education leaders talked about what to do to fix Oklahoma’s classroom performance struggles.   

The Institute of Education Sciences performs a National Assessment of Education Progress. They gave Oklahoma a 208 out of 500 for a reading 

score. Oklahoma trails 39 states based on this metric and students of color perform at least 20 points lower than white students.  

Thursday the State Board of Education voted unanimously to pass what State Superintendent Ryan Walters calls the “Back to Basics Plan” -- that 

would send $38 million toward early literacy and $11 million for math and science for things like tutoring, training, and the workforce. 

So, while there is plenty to debate about a child’s education. One could argue the skill to learn starts with the ability to read.   

News 9 contacted the Oklahoma Education Association for its reaction to this plan but has not heard back. 

What's Missing?

Missing from Thursday’s agenda is the Western Heights School District, and its employment of a principal who also works as a drag queen.

However, State Superintendent Ryan Walters said he has no issue so long as the principal's personal life does not interfere with his duties at the school.

"As long as he's not bringing that to school, what he wants to do on his own time doesn't matter to me at all," Walters said. "A drag queen running a school is not in alignment with Oklahoma values."

The Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting begins at 9:30 a.m.

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