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Oklahoma education board will consider trans bathroom ban rules, re-hearing Tulsa, Mustang accreditation

Mustang Public Schools
Mustang Public Schools
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Mustang Public Schools

Pack a lunch if you’re planning on going to the Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting Thursday. There’s a packed agenda.

It’s the first time the body has gathered since downgrading Tulsa’s and Mustang Public Schools’ accreditation, and it will consider offering the districts a re-hearing. Such a move would be unprecedented.

Those accreditation warnings were the first punishment a school has faced for Oklahoma’s so-called critical race theory ban.

Since then, community leaders, newspaper editorial boards and even the school districts themselves have asked the state board to reverse its decision.

The national free speech group Pen America joined the chorus earlier this week, sending a letter to the State Board.

“Under any reasonable interpretation of [House Bill 1775] and of the emergency rules issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) in response to the law, neither Tulsa Public Schools nor Mustang Public Schools merited any sanction, let alone the ‘accredited with warning’ designation, harsher than what OSDE had requested, that the Board chose to impose on both schools,” the organization wrote.

In addition, the board will consider new rules related to Senate Bill 615, which bans transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice. Critics and trans students have said the bill unfairly targets LGBTQ+ people.

Last month’s meeting was marked by tensions between board members appointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt and state superintendent Joy Hofmeister, his opponent for November.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Robby Korth grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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