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Former Norman High School teacher’s revocation case still unresolved

Norman High School
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Norman High School

Six months after state officials put their case before a judge to revoke her teaching license, a former Norman teacher who shared access to a catalog of banned books is still fully certified in Oklahoma.

Summer Boismier faced a revocation hearing in June where attorneys from the Oklahoma State Department of Education contended she never should be allowed to teach in the state again.

A judge who presided over the hearing found the state failed to prove its case and recommended Boismier’s certification remain intact. State agency officials said they still planned to continue the revocation proceedings.

Half a year later, the matter still hasn’t come before the state Board of Education. The board has the final say on suspending or revoking a teaching license.

A Department of Education spokesperson, Dan Isett, said “the process is ongoing” but provided no details on what comes next.

The longer the delay, the less likely the revocation would hold up in court, should the state go through with it, said Boismier’s attorney, Brady Henderson. He said the state agency hasn’t provided much of an explanation for the lull.

Just like the process is still unresolved, so is Boismier’s decision of whether she would want to teach in Oklahoma again, he said.

“Experiences like this for any teacher essentially makes them question, ‘OK, do I want to deal with things like this if this is the kind of treatment I’m going to get as a teacher?’” Henderson said.

Meanwhile, Boismier is suing state Superintendent Ryan Walters in Oklahoma City federal court, alleging he personally owes her $75,000 or more for defamation, slander, libel and false representation.

Boismier now lives in New York City and works for the Brooklyn Public Library. The former English teacher resigned from Norman High School shortly after the start of the 2022-23 school year.

She left the school in protest of House Bill 1775, a law that bans certain race and gender topics from public school classrooms.

Shortly before her resignation, Boismier caught the public’s eye by covering her classroom bookshelves with red butcher paper that read “Books the state doesn’t want you to read.”

The focal point of the state’s argument against her was a QR code she posted in her classroom along with the butcher paper display. The code linked to the Brooklyn Public Library’s online collection of banned books.

The catalog allows students from any part of the country to access thousands of books that have been censored in public schools and libraries.

State officials contend some of the books in the catalog, like Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer,” contain sexually explicit content and are unsuitable for minors to read. Boismier said she didn’t advocate for any particular book in the library’s collection and didn’t have a copy of “Gender Queer.”

Regardless, Walters accused the teacher of sharing pornographic material with students.

While still a candidate running for office, Walters issued a statement incorrectly claiming Boismier had been fired from Norman Public Schools.

The Norman district has maintained that Boismier wasn’t fired and never violated HB 1775. Walters later revised his campaign statement.

Henderson said Boismier experienced personal suffering and online abuse because of Walters’ accusations.

“Of course, that’s really an inflammatory thing to say about somebody, particularly a teacher, when there’s just no truth to it,” Henderson said. “The federal case is about that damage and the damages to a person’s reputation, the emotional injury that causes (and) the heartache that causes.”

In response to the lawsuit against Walters, the state superintendent’s senior adviser and former campaign manager Matt Langston said, “Truth is an absolute defense to defamation.”

Oklahoma Voice is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oklahoma Voice maintains editorial independence.

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