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AM NewsBrief: Oct. 23, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Monday, Oct. 23, 2023.

Oklahoma's AG Sues State Virtual Charter School Board

Oklahoma’s Attorney General is filing a lawsuit against the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board for its decision to approve what would be the nation’s first publicly funded religious school.

Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed the suit Friday after the board voted 3-2 earlier this month to approve the contract for the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School.

Drummond has, from the beginning, warned the board that approval for St. Isidore would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, as well as the state constitution, which says no public money shall ever be used for sectarian institutions, and public schools must be free from sectarian control. He says it’s clear Oklahomans agree — a 2016 statewide vote rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would’ve allowed money to go to sectarian organizations.

Drummond also argues the establishment of St. Isidore violates certain federal law, jeopardizing Oklahoma’s ability to receive federal education dollars. Governor Kevin Stitt released a statement in response Friday, calling the lawsuit a “political stunt” and accusing Drummond of not having “any firm grasp on the constitutional principle of religious freedom.”

Chickasaw Nation Accountant Sentenced For Theft

A former Chickasaw Nation accountant will serve two years in prison for embezzling almost half a million dollars in federal funds.

Christopher Wallace Covington pleaded guilty to Theft Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds last year.

Earlier this month, he was sentenced by a federal judge to 24 months in prison and to pay five hundred thousand dollars in restitution.

Covington served as an accounting manager in the Chickasaw Nation Department of Treasury. He is accused of using his position to steal 486-thousand dollars meant for Chickasaw students between 2017 and 2021.

Avian Influenza Confirmed In South Central Oklahoma

Highly pathogenic avian influenza was confirmed in a poultry flock in Carter County Oklahoma last week.

Avian influenza is unlikely to be contracted by humans or other livestock, but it is extremely contagious and fatal to birds in almost all cases, according to the Oklahoma Department of Conservation.

Paxton Smith is a migratory game bird biologist with ODWC. He says the birds gathering for migration in the fall can spread the disease rapidly.

“They group up, and they travel long distances. While they're doing that, they're sort of mixing with other populations of birds. And some might become exposed to bird flu," said Smith.

Smith says people are hunting migratory game birds this fall should follow CDC guidelines regarding bird flu and harvested wild birds.

Airport Trust Seeks Input On Rebranding Effort For Will Rogers World Airport

The Oklahoma City Airport Trust is asking for your input on a rebranding effort for Will Rogers World Airport.

Officials say as the airport expands with plans for more destinations, it was time to reexamine the airport’s branding.

An online survey is now available for the public to weigh in and share feedback. It will be available until Monday, Nov. 13. Find the survey at flyok.com.

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