Also this week — a superintendent at a Fairfax county school district has been suspended by the school’s board owing to new sanctions by federal and state education authorities.
Catch up on the week’s Oklahoma education news with this collection of headlines from reporters around the state.
Stitt pushes for changes to student transfer policy, funding formula
Stitt’s State of the State address referenced two of his #oklaed goals: changing the state’s school funding formula and creating a stronger and statewide open transfer policy for students between Oklahoma’s more than 500 school districts.
The Frontier’s Ben Felder reported that while schools are currently funded based off of the highest enrollment count for one of the past three years, Stitt wants the enrollment for the current year only to be counted. Legislative leaders have yet to reveal their proposal for the issue, but going from a three-year high to a two-year high could be proposed in a yet-to-be-released House bill.
Stitt also wants a more “robust and consistent” open transfer policy for students so they can attend a public school that fits their needs. SB 783 by Sen. Adam Pugh (R-Edmond) has been filed on that topic.
Controversial quarantine policy implemented at some rural schools
A controversial quarantine policy announced by Gov. Kevin Stitt in January is getting some traction with rural Oklahoma school districts.
The Oklahoman’s Nuria Martinez-Keel reported that school districts including Duncan and Minco Public Schools have decided to try the new guidelines. Woodward Public Schools has adopted similar quarantine guidelines.
Woodland Schools superintendent suspended owing to state and federal sanctions
The Tulsa World’s Andrea Eger reported that superintendent of the Woodland Public Schools, Todd Kimrey, has been suspended by the school board owing to new sanctions by federal and state education authorities.
Board members voted 4-0 to send him a notice of his possible dismissal and his rights to a hearing. The board passed a separate motion to suspend him immediately without pay. Kimrey allegedly ignored dozens of contacts from state and federal education officials in recent years.
Located in Fairfax southeast of Ponca City, Woodland Schools is allegedly the only public school district in the country to ignore mandatory federal reporting requirements since 2015. The district’s accreditation status was placed under “probation” at a recent State Board of Education meeting.
Former Oologah-Talala coach indicted amid ‘rash of sexual misconduct cases’
Eger also reported in the Tulsa World that former Oologah-Talala Public Schools assistant girls basketball coach Trent Winters has been indicted by the state’s multicounty grand jury on six counts of uttering obscene language in a public place in relation to allegations that he made obscene or lascivious statements to six different female minor children while employed by the district.
But Winters’ story is only one of five teacher misconduct cases the district has faced in recent years, and the Oklahoma State Board of Education’s frustration with how the Oologah-Talala superintendent and school board handled the situations led to sanctions.
The charges are not Winters’ first time in the spotlight for alleged inappropriate behavior. As Eger reported:
An attorney whose firm represents two of the girls and their parents questions how Trent Winters was ever hired at Oologah after a well-publicized resignation and police citation in Braggs for unseemly conduct related to Facebook messages with students, some of which were reported to be sexual in nature.
Tulsa Public Schools could return to in-person learning sooner than expected
News On 6 reported that Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist announced Monday that students could return to in-person learning before the end of February.
While Gist said she is not making a recommendation, she cited data showing the longest sustained downward trend for COVID-19 infection rates in the district since the pandemic began.
The district had initially delayed the return to in-person learning until March 22, which received criticism from Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Oklahoma educators teach the Tulsa Race Massacre
State Impact’s Robby Korth reported that 100 years after the Tulsa Race Massacre, Oklahoma educators are improving the way they teach the history to students.
Oklahoma’s social studies framework has expanded over the years to include more about the Greenwood District where the massacre happened. Plus, curricula put together by the Oklahoma History Center and the John Hope Franklin Center are being more widely used.
However, Korth reported that one of the biggest changes has been professional development for teachers focused around how to teach the massacre to students.
OKCPS brings fifth through 12th graders back to in-person learning
Oklahoma City Public Schools welcomed fifth through 12th grade students back to the classroom this past week on an A/B schedule.
KFOR’s Jacklyn Chappell reported that this is the first time in nearly a year that the OKCPS district has had students at all grade levels back in the classroom in some capacity.
OKCPS brought pre-k through fourth grade students back to in-person on an A/B schedule on Jan. 19.
Cheat sheet: Four candidates on Edmond Schools ballot
Four candidates will appear on the ballot for the Edmond Public Schools Board of Education including incumbent Lee Ann Kuhlman, retired educator and principal Charles Woodham, parent Latarsha Hodges and former House of Representatives District 96 candidate Margaret Best.
Bartlesville High School makes effort to close gender gap in computer science
Kim Archer with the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reported that Bartlesville High School has received the national Advanced Placement Computer Science Female Diversity Award owing to the school’s efforts to close the gender gap in computer sciences.
Bartlesville qualified for the award for having 50 percent or higher female examinee representation on its AP Computer Science Principles course for the 2019-20 school year.
The other Oklahoma high schools to receive the award include Southmoore, Yukon, Grove, Cheyenne and Oklahoma Christian Schools.
Oklahoma education tweets of the week
— Robby Korth (@RobbyKorth) February 1, 2021
Here's the CDC guidance from Jan 2021 for reopening schools. https://t.co/wh1QVdSHpJ
▶️ Required Masking
▶️ Safe Distancing (6')
▶️ Quarantining on exposure
▶️ Staggered A/B Schedules
▶️ Improved ventilation
They can reopen safely — if we do these things.
But we don't
— Andy Fugate – OK House District 94 (@afugate) February 3, 2021
— Ginnie Graham (@GinnieGraham) February 3, 2021
As you know, it’s not an exact science on any of this and it is literally learn as you go and teach them where they are. I’ll take Gist timing>Stitt timing on this issue. But I’m just a dude trying to have school and keep our people safe at the same time. #noeasydecisions
— Craig McVay (@mcvay51) February 1, 2021
Santa Fe South charter school signed a contract today with OCCC to become its new authorizer, moving from OKCPS after this school year. They signed the contact in the governor's Blue Room #oklaed pic.twitter.com/L79Jn9hUJX
— Ben Felder (@benfelder_okc) February 2, 2021