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PM NewsBrief: June 12, 2024

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for June 12, 2024.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Sides With Tulsa In Race Massacre Lawsuit

Oklahoma’s highest court has rejected reparations for the last survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Justices said a legal bar was not met in their ruling released Wednesday.

Viola Fletcher and Lessie Benningfield Randle are both more than 100-years-old.

They brought a public nuisance lawsuit against the city of Tulsa and other entities for participating in the massacre.

Attorneys for the survivors argued the legacy of the massacre, which may have killed as many as 300 residents of Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood, has left ongoing problems that local government must answer for.

In an 8 to 1 decision, the court rejected that argument, stating, in part, that the survivors could not come up with a solution to their grievances.

The court acknowledged the complaints were “legitimate,” but said they ultimately did not fall within the scope of a public nuisance.

The survivors first brought their lawsuit in Tulsa, but Judge Caroline Wall dismissed their case last year.

Special Session Ends Quickly

The state Senate held a very short special session Wednesday.

Gov. Kevin Stitt had called lawmakers back to the capitol to consider his nomination of Mike Holder to the Board of Regents.

Holder is a former OSU coach and athletic director.

Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat says his chamber had quorum but adjourned to begin the vetting process.

"We've been approached by some people who have deep ties to OSU suggesting that he may not be qualified on a couple of counts. So we have to investigate that like anything that we look at to vet,” Treat said.

Stitt nominated Holder after the Senate voted down the governor's original nominee last month.

This Regents position would oversee the state's A-and-M colleges.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Edmond Public Schools Over Library Book Dispute

The state’s highest court unanimously ruled that the state Department of Education overstepped its authority by trying to force Edmond Public Schools to remove “The Kite Runner” and “The Glass Castle” from library shelves.

The Court affirmed that local school boards, not the state, decide which books are included in school libraries.

The Education Department had demanded the removal of these books due to their sexual content and threatened to downgrade Edmond’s accreditation.

Edmond Public Schools praised the Court’s decision, while State Superintendent Ryan Walters criticized it, maintaining the books were inappropriate and accused the school district of “peddling porn” by keeping the books in its high school libraries.

Some Oklahoma Colleges Adding AI Degree Programs

From science fiction to reality, artificial intelligence is weaving itself into daily life, including in higher education.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education are introducing artificial intelligence degree programs at three of the state’s schools.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma will offer a bachelor’s degree in AI. Rose State students will be able to get a two-year associate’s in AI and machine learning.

The new degree programs are part of a greater effort in Oklahoma to push artificial intelligence education.

In May, the state partnered with Google to provide free digital skills trainings for all Oklahomans, including an AI essentials course that teaches users how to use AI responsibly and leverage it in the workplace.

More than 19,000 jobs in Oklahoma currently require AI skills. That number is expected to grow over the next decade.

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