State Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola, criticized a ruling by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter that the Oklahoma State Board of Education (SDE) can overrule local elected public school boards.
In his ruling, Hunter said, “Before the [state] Board may sponsor a charter school under Section 3-132(A)(9), the application must have been denied by the local school district when initially submitted and again upon reconsideration.”
Gann sought Hunter’s opinion in February after the SDE approved a charter school plan that the Seminole school board had previously denied multiple times.
“I am disappointed to see our attorney general disregard local government and duly-elected representatives on a local school board,” he said. “Regardless of the pros and cons of charter schools versus public schools, this is a new, unprecedented concentration of power in the hands of the governor, who appoints every member of the SDE. This is just another example of the ‘Top-Down Approach’ that obstructs the decisions on the local level where parents, teachers and students are represented by elected school board members.
“Oklahoma must never allow power from the top down in government to engineer the lives of citizens, whether it comes from the state or the federal level. The people who live in communities across this state love, care for and understand the needs of their children. Locally elected school board members are invested in their communities and are personally liable for the welfare of their districts. We should never forget that.”