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Walters calls for former Norman English teacher to have license revoked over sharing link to banned book resource

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Ryan Walters for OK State Superintendent
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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (left) and his cabinet-appointed Secretary of Education Ryan Walters (right) during an August primary runoff election rally.

Former Norman High School English teacher Summer Boismier has repeatedly and publicly acknowledged she shared a QR code with students encouraging them to read banned books.

She has also said she resigned because she didn’t think she could do her job well in the current climate surrounding House Bill 1775, a law that bans teaching controversial topics.

Now, State Secretary for Education Ryan Walters is calling for her to lose her teaching license over it.

In a letter to Oklahoma’s State Board of Education, Walters – Gov. Stitt’s cabinet secretary focused on education – called on the board to immediately revoke her teaching license.

“There is no place for a teacher with a liberal political agenda in the classroom,” he wrote. “Ms. Boismier’s providing access to banned and pornographic material to students is unacceptable and we must ensure she doesn’t go to another district and do the same thing.”

The State board’s rules around HB 1775 say if a teacher does “willfully violate” the law, their teaching license could be revoked. That educator would have the right to a hearing before the board with legal counsel.

Boismier would be the first teacher to potentially face consequences for violating the provisions of House Bill 1775, though it’s unclear if the board will do anything regarding Walters’ request. State Superintendent and Democratic candidate for Governor Joy Hofmeister is in charge of setting the board’s agenda.

Oklahoma’s State Board of Education does regularly revoke teaching licenses.

But a review of recent cases shows that such actions typically have little to do with what a teacher says and does in the classroom and is instead reserved for serious criminal activity.

Recent high revocations include teachers like former Stillwater social studies teacher Alberto Morejon. A former leader of the teacher walkout, Morejon was sentenced to five years in prison for sexually lewd communication with a minor. Another is former Harrah High School baseball coach Charles Copeland, who is accused of “an indecent and lewd act,” with a student. A third is former Carnegie Public Schools special education teacher Andee Lantz, accused of raping a 16-year-old student.

Update:
Eight hours after releasing the letter, Walters posted what he characterized as an updated version. The updated version acknowledges that Boismier resigned rather than being fired. He left the original copy of the letter up.

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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