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KRMG In-Depth: Tussle over Tulsa schools shows deep divisions regarding education in Oklahoma

Tulsa Public Schools

TULSA — While Gov. Kevin Stitt and his Secretary of Education, Ryan Walters consistently talk about “woke” educational policies, political indoctrination, and gender identity issues, the real problems facing Oklahoma educators go unaddressed and unresolved, according to Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist.

She said Stitt and Walters are examples of “people who don’t believe in public education, underfund it, criticize it every time they turn around, fail to lead, and then blame people for what’s happening as a result,” which she finds “at best, irresponsible.”

KRMG spoke with Gist Monday, to get her response to a letter from Walters to the Tulsa Public Schools Board regarding public comment on a social media post by board member E’Lena Ashley which some people had found homophobic and insulting. [See related story here]

In that letter, Walters referred to those who wished to comment on Ashley’s post as a “left-wing mob” and said it would be “unacceptable for the Tulsa School Board to require or even entertain this type of targeting of a duly elected school board member.”

Gist tells KRMG it would be unlawful and a violation of the First Amendment for the district to pick and choose who can or can’t attend public meetings of the school board, and comment at those meetings according to the rules and bylaws of the district.

During that meeting, supporters of Ashley booed a 12-year-old student who called for board members to get additional training in diversity, equity and inclusion.

KRMG spoke at length with Walters, Ashley and Gist. Here is our series of in-depth reports based on those conversations:

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