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Oklahoma's new charter school board will meet on nation's first private charter school

State Superintendent Ryan Walters presents his education budget proposal at his first meeting as superintendent, January 2023.
Beth Wallis
/
StateImpact Oklahoma
State Superintendent Ryan Walters presents his education budget proposal at his first meeting as superintendent, January 2023.

Oklahoma’s new school board charged with overseeing the future contract of the nation’s first private charter school meets July 8.

The Statewide Charter School Board will oversee almost half of Oklahoma’s charter schools. It was created as a way to consolidate and take oversight duties away from the State Department of Education and Oklahoma’s Statewide Virtual Charter Board.

Charter schools are publicly funded and independently operated. They are accredited by the State Department of Education, but are exempt from certain requirements. For example, they can hire teachers without a valid state teaching certificate.

Oklahoma lawmakers created this new board following issues with schools overseen by the state’s virtual charter board and the State Board of Education.

Eight of the nine members have been named:

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt’s three appointees are Brian Shellem, Angie Thomas and Kathleen White.
  • Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat named Damon Gardenhire and Becky Gooch.
  • House Speaker Charles McCall has named one of his two appointees, Jared Buswell.
  • Kitty Campbell was designated by State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd.
  • The final announced member is State Superintendent Ryan Walters.

Their first order of business is discussing the nation’s first private Catholic charter school, St. Isidore’s. On June 25, Oklahoma’s Supreme Court declared that school unconstitutional for improperly mixing church and state.

The court has ordered that St. Isidore’s contract be rescinded, but that has yet to occur. According to its first meeting agenda, the board will meet in executive session to discuss that contract.


This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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