Watch Now: Stitt Requests Special State Audit of Tulsa Public Schools | Education


Governor Kevin Stitt announced Thursday afternoon on Facebook and Twitter that he had requested a special audit of Tulsa Public Schools.

Stitt said his request to the state auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd was prompted by contact with two members of the local school board, but his request also sought to pursue two additional issues.

Although Stitt did not name them in his social media announcement, the Tulsa School Board members who requested his official audit request were E’Lena Ashley of TPS Board District 4 and Jennettie Marshall of TPS Board District 3. .

In their letter provided by the governor’s office, the two referred only to a recently publicized internal school district investigation into possible financial losses “at the hands of a district employee,” adding, “There there are significant concerns and supporting evidence that state processes and contracting laws may have been violated, and this is not a one-time situation but a modus operandi .”

Last week, TPS officials announced the discovery of nearly $20,000 in vendor contract irregularities within the district personnel office. These irregularities allegedly occurred more than two years ago, but were brought to the attention of administrators in the past month and escalated to local law enforcement on June 27, Superintendent Deborah Gist said.

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On Wednesday, TPS revealed the recent resignation of Devin Fletcher, its chief of staff, which will be discussed with the supplier contract in question at a special school board meeting on Thursday evening.

Stitt, who is running for re-election, also took the opportunity to criticize the state’s largest school district for COVID-related school closures in previous years and to share his concern that the district could teach critical race theory.

Stitt’s request for a special state audit also seeks an investigation into Tulsa Public Schools’ use of relief funds and he requests a compliance audit on a recent reported violation of a new state law. State limiting teaching in public schools about race, gender and history.

“As one of the largest districts in the state, TPS has received over $200 million in federal COVID relief funds. TPS has also been closed the longest – over 300 consecutive days,” Stitt said. “Board members, parents, students and teachers deserve to know how this money was spent. …”

“I firmly believe that not a cent of taxpayers’ money should be used to define and divide young Oklahomans based on their race or gender. Let’s teach students, not indoctrinate them,” Stitt said.

Two weeks ago, the Oklahoma State Department of Education notified the state Board of Education that a professional development session on implicit bias provided to public school employees in Tulsa had been ruled in violation of House Bill 1775, a new state law intended to limit instruction on race, sex and history.

HB 1775 does not include the phrase “critical race theory”. However, many have interpreted its provisions as a ban on the concept, which argues that many key pillars of American society, including the justice system and the economy, have been shaped to benefit whites at the expense of minorities.

Under administrative rules approved by the State Board of Education, the violation means that when the district’s accreditation is reviewed in July, its status must be downgraded to “accreditation with impairment.”

The second of five categories of accreditation available to Oklahoma public education, “accreditation with impairment” means that a district or school does not meet at least one state standard, but it does not detracts from its overall educational quality.

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