Superintendent's Bible Mandate Faces Legal, Legislative Challenges

Oklahoma Superintendent Ryan Walters proposes mandatory Bibles in classrooms, but it faces delays and opposition. The earliest implementation is the 2025-2026 school year, pending review, public comments, and legislative approval. Critics, including State Rep. Jon Echols and legal experts, argue it violates state law on curriculum control, potentially leading to lawsuits.

Wednesday, July 10th 2024, 4:02 pm

By: News 9, Haley Weger


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State superintendent Ryan Walters says he wants Bibles in all Oklahoma classrooms.

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So News 9 took a closer look at the process for this to become mandated.

There are still a few steps that need to happen before any mandated changes to the curriculum can occur.

Lawmakers tell News 9 that any new standards wouldn’t be going into effect until the 2025-2026 school year at the earliest.

The process is similar to other proposed rule changes we’ve seen under Walters. The review committee will go over everything and then come back with a recommendation to the State Board of Education.

The board will go through a public comment period to hear from Oklahomans, and then they will take a final vote on the proposed changes.

From there, things move to the Capitol where state lawmakers can approve or deny the new standards.

State Rep. Jon Echols (R-District 90) said he was against this.

According to state statute, subject standards are reviewed every six years meaning they are up for revision in 2025.

Now, we're hearing concerns from local attorneys as well.

The Center for Education Law in Oklahoma City sent a letter to local superintendents across the state.

That letter says that in their opinion, their memo from the state superintendent is "invalid under Oklahoma law.”

They cited a statute, saying "school districts shall exclusively determine curriculum and textbooks, not the State Superintendent, department or board of education."

They end the memo saying it is likely “that an organization, on behalf of parents or students, may file a lawsuit” to stop this possible change.

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