Title: Tulsa Public Schools Faces Potential Accreditation Crisis
Tulsa Public Schools, once granted the status of “Accredited With a Warning,” has now been downgraded further to “Accredited With Deficiencies” by the State Board of Education. This decision comes with a warning from State Superintendent Ryan Walters, who has stated that strong action will be taken if improvements are not seen within the district.
Walters has made it clear that options on the table could include revoking accreditation and taking state control of the district. The concerns cited by the State School Board include the misuse of finances and inadequate financial disclosures, which have raised red flags regarding the district’s accountability.
Under Walters’ TPS Improvement Plan, the district must reorient its finances, increase reading proficiency scores, and address the issue of schools on the F-List. However, these deficiencies are not limited to the district as a whole – individual schools within TPS are also facing warnings and deficiencies.
Recent cases of schools losing accreditation have heightened concerns. SeeWorth Academy and the Western Heights School District serve as stark examples of the consequences faced by failing institutions. Accreditation operates on a scale of five levels, ranging from ‘Accredited With No Deficiencies’ to ‘Non-accredited.’
In the midst of these challenges, TPS superintendent, Dr. Deborah Gist, has resigned, further exacerbating the tumultuous situation. Dr. Ebony Johnson has been appointed as the interim superintendent, while Gist’s resignation has been viewed by many as an attempt to prevent the state from removing the district’s accreditation.
The strained relationship between Tulsa Public Schools and state leaders did not emerge overnight. Criticisms of the district’s response to COVID-19, along with concerns of potential mishandling of public funds, have contributed to this strained dynamic. Governor Kevin Stitt accused the district of potentially violating House Bill 1775, which prohibits the teaching of Critical Race Theory. Superintendent Gist’s reaction to this accusation added fuel to the fire, as she labeled Governor Stitt a bully on social media. These incidents have further escalated tensions between TPS and state officials.
State Superintendent Ryan Walters has consistently called for Gist’s resignation and has intensified efforts to reassess the district’s accreditation. As Tulsa Public Schools hangs in the balance, it is anticipated that crucial decisions will be made in the near future, which could reshape the educational landscape of the district for years to come.