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Ryan Walters steps down from position at nonprofit amid conflict-of-interest concerns

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Whitney Bryen
/
Oklahoma Watch
Ryan Walters is seen after a debate between Republican candidates running for the state's Superintendent of Public Instruction on June 22, 2022.

Oklahoma’s newly minted State Superintendent Ryan Walters is stepping down from his CEO position at a nonprofit amid conflict-of-interest concerns.

The organization, Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, paid Walters at least $120,000 in 2021 for a full-time position, according to reporting from The Frontier and Oklahoma Watch. That’s almost as much as his state superintendent salary, at $124,000.

The organization advocates for expanding charter and private schools, which is an issue Walters championed in his campaign. But critics have voiced concerns about how a state superintendent could do their job while also running a nonprofit that lobbies for big changes in education.

According to The Oklahoman, two of the organization’s contractors were let go by its board last week after they raised questions about the nonprofit’s plans to hold a Capitol reception for Walters. However, a direct link between raising concerns and their dismissal couldn’t be confirmed.

Walters says he plans to push for school privatization again this legislative session after the GOP’s failed voucher effort last year. The session begins in February.

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.

Beth reports on education topics for StateImpact Oklahoma.
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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