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AM NewsBrief: Aug. 25, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022.

Death row inmate denied clemency, vigil held at Capitol

Gov. Kevin Stitt has denied clemency to a death row inmate.

The decision means James Coddington will be executed by lethal injection at 10:00 this morning at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Stitt stated in an executive order that he thoroughly reviewed the arguments and evidence presented in the case and determined that clemency should be denied.

A federal appeals court already has denied Coddington’s request for a stay.

Over a dozen people gathered Wednesday at the State Capitol to protest the death penalty and today’s execution.

Members of various faith communities came together to pray for an end to the death penalty and for Gov. Kevin Stitt to reverse his decision to deny clemency for death row inmate James Coddington.

Rev. Dr. Shannon Fleck from the Oklahoma Conference of Churches says she and those gathered are disturbed by the 25 executions scheduled to take place over the next two years.

"In our opinion, that is state sanctioned killing which is against everything the Governor hasreported to stand for on the grounds of his faith."

Death Penalty Action and partners delivered a petition signed by over 6,000 people to stop Coddington’s execution.

Coddington, who was convicted of the 1997 murder of Albert Troy Hale, is scheduled to be executed today at 10 a.m.

Federal student loan forgiveness offers some relief for indebted Oklahomans

Federal student loan borrowers – including thousands of Oklahomans – are going to get some relief, thanks to the Biden Administration’s announcement Wednesday of partial debt forgiveness for student loans. The administration is also extending the pandemic-era pause on payments that were supposed to begin next week.

President Biden announced his administration is canceling $10,000 in federal student loan debt for Americans earning $125,000 or less per year or households earning $250,000 or less per year. Nearly 40% of Oklahoma federal student loan borrowers have less than $10,000 in debt, and of those, residents under the income cap will see their student debt wiped clean. The average Oklahoma borrower owes about $31,000.

"It’s about opportunity. It’s about giving people a fair shot. It’s about the one word America can be defined by: possibilities. It’s all about providing possibilities," Biden said.

The administration is also extending the pause on federal student loan payments for all borrowers until Dec. 31.

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

Oklahoma’s State Board of Education will meet this morning to discuss a wide array of topics related to trans bathroom bans, critical race theory and more.

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

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

In addition, the board will consider new rules related to Senate Bill 615, which bans transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice.

Last month’s meeting was marked by tensions between board members appointed by Governor Kevin Stitt and state superintendent Joy Hofmeister, his opponent for November. And it’s unclear what the dynamic will be this time around.

Norman English teacher resigns after sharing link to banned book resource with students

An English teacher in Norman has resigned after alleging she was punished for providing students with a link to help them access banned books.

Norman High teacher Summer Boismier says she was removed from the classroom after sharing a QR code to the Brooklyn Public Library's Books Unbanned program, which provides teens around the country free digital access to books that are banned where they live and attend school.

"My first reaction was 'let's hire that teacher' because we are always looking for smart courageous people to work in our system. I've heard about it because it's gone viral on Twitter. And I'm really am sick about it," said Brooklyn Public Library CEO Linda Johnson.

In a statement, Norman Public Schools claims Boismier was using her classroom to push her political views on students but that she was never fired or placed on leave.

The incident is the latest free-speech issue in Oklahoma schools following the signing of House Bill 1775, the so-called critical race theory ban that restricts how teachers can discuss topics like systemic racism and gender identity.

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