'I Just Want Answers To My Questions:' Rep. Mark McBride On Subpoena To State Superintendent Walters

After filing a subpoena demanding answers from State Superintendent Ryan Walters, Rep. Mark McBride sat down with News 9 to discuss the next steps.

Wednesday, December 20th 2023, 5:12 pm

By: News 9, Haley Weger


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After a subpoena was filed demanding answers from State Superintendent Ryan Walters, we talked with the lawmaker behind the legal action. Rep. Mark McBride has been trying to get answers from Walters on a variety of education topics for more than a year, requests McBride says have gone unanswered.

McBride subpoenaed Walters this week, demanding a handful of documents and communication records within the next two weeks. “If there's nothing there, show me,” said Rep. Mark McBride, ( R) House Education Budget and Appropriations Chair. “There's no ‘I gotcha' question’ here. It's just questions about public education that any appropriator would ask.”

McBride says he tried to work with Walters and his chief policy advisor Matt Langston, but after many requests for basic information were left unmet, he says he had no other option but to issue the subpoena. “They need to stop using our kids as their political pawns - that's the big thing,” said Rep. McBride.

“I don't believe that they're trying to better the state of Oklahoma. If you were, why can't you answer my questions?” asked Rep. McBride.

While we still haven’t heard from Walters, his chief policy advisor Matt Langston responded by calling McBride a liar. “Am I a liar? Well if asking questions makes me a liar then I guess I am, but that’s all I've ever done is ask questions and they come to me unanswered,” said Rep. McBride.

The one response McBride did get back from OSDE was a letter from Matt Langston, on OSDE letterhead, calling McBride a “whiny democrat.” “I don't want him to set the precedent that an agency head and his staffer can thumb their nose at the legislature,” said Rep. McBride.

Matt Langston provided a new statement today, saying, “Instead of worrying about staff, McBride should be more worried about his representing teachers unions and caucusing with Democrats. If he is going to represent them, he might as well switch parties. McBride should join Superintendent Walters in the fight to keep porn out of schools, end union leadership, and end DEI to better serve Oklahomans.”

The subpoena also has the signatures of House Common Education Chair, Rhonda Baker, and House Speaker Charles McCall. “The speaker would not sign off on something if he didn’t feel like the majority of our caucus was behind him,” said Rep. McBride.

House Minority Leader Cyndi Munson calls this a step in the right direction but says the requested information should be available to both parties. "Since late August, House Democrats have made requests to the Speaker of the House and the Republican supermajority to create a special bipartisan House committee to investigate the State Superintendent to determine whether or not his actions and inactions at the Oklahoma State Department of Education rise to the level of impeachment.

Yesterday's announcement of the subpoena request is a step in the right direction. However, there are still questions about how, when, and to which Members the information will be distributed and what action will be taken once information has been received. For true transparency and accountability, Members of both parties should have access to the information submitted by the State Superintendent.

We continue to have questions about the recent report about the 100 school districts that have not received federal funding approval from the Oklahoma State Department of Education – funding that is vital to many programs and jobs at school districts across our state. We remain committed to protecting our public schools and our public tax dollars and will use the legislative process to do just that,” said Munson.

Munson is one of many democrats that has been calling to look at impeaching the State Superintendent. “We're not there yet - or we may not ever be there. I really don't wanna go down that road,” said Rep. McBride.

According to state statute, Walters could be held in contempt if he doesn’t respond and lawmakers could order the county sheriff to imprison Walters if he doesn’t hand over the documents. But McBride says he doesn’t want it to come to that. “Right now - no I don't, I just want answers to my questions I don't want anything else - just answer the questions,” said Rep. McBride.

The subpoena demands Walters turn over the following items:

  1. Details on a teacher recruitment program that Walters discussed during a media interview.
  2. Details of failing schools and what Waters is doing to help those schools get back on track.
  3. An update on the Metrics Software $2 million expenditure from SB 36X and how it is, or is not being utilized by OSDE and/ or schools.
  4. Details on procedure behind Policy Advisor, Matt Langston’s response to state lawmakers.
  5. A copy of applications from 950 teachers Walters said have applied to teach in Oklahoma from out of state.
  6. All emails sent to rwalters@everykidcountsok.gov from September 10, 2020, forward, that related to the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability.
  7. Copies of all correspondence between OSDE and Chairs Baker and McBride regarding document requests.
  8. Any emails, texts, or other communications between Walters and Matt Langston regarding the responses to document requests from Chairs McBride and Baker.

Also attached to the subpoena are four letters from McBride to Walters, requesting the above items, including the “final request” on December 6th. All four of these letters were signed as “delivered” by an OSDE staff member.

Walters has to turn in all of the requested info by January 5 at 3 p.m. at the state Capitol.

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