Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist to Step Down Amid Feud With Anti-Woke School Boss Ryan Walters

The superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools in Oklahoma said Tuesday that she would step aside in an attempt to avert a takeover of the district, an effort being spearheaded by a state superintendent known for ranting about “woke ideology” and accusing the district of taking funding from “Communist China.”

Deborah Gist said in a lengthy email to district colleagues that leaving on Sept. 15 would be the “hardest thing” she’s ever done. But, she said, it was the best way for the district to avoid being stripped of its accreditation status, forcing schools to close in the state’s largest district, and to “keep control of our schools where it belongs—in Tulsa with our elected Board of Education.”

Gist has been at loggerheads with Oklahoma State Schools Superintendent Ryan Walters for months, something she acknowledged in the email was a reason for her departure.

“It is no secret that our state superintendent has had an unrelenting focus on our district and specifically on me,” she said, “and I am confident that my departure will help to keep our democratically elected leadership and our team in charge of our schools.”

In response, Walters said in a statement that he was “pleased to see” what he characterized as the Tulsa board’s “removal” of Gist.

“From day one, I called for the removal of Gist in order to get the district on a path to success,” he said. “I am optimistic that this is a step in the right direction, that TPS and the community takes their situation seriously. Financial transparency and academic outcomes must come next. I will put Tulsa kids first.”

Walters, the former head of a nonprofit called Every Oklahoma Kid Counts, began ranting about the “rigorous need for intervention” in Tulsa over the summer. Earlier this month, he railed to reporters, “Tulsa Public Schools is a bus being driven by Superintendent Deborah Gist. That bus has veered off the road, that bus has gone into a ditch, and now that bus has crashed right into a tree.”

The district, which is majority Black and Hispanic and serves a population that is 80 percent economically disadvantaged, did not meet Oklahoma proficiency rates for any grades in elementary or middle school in 2022, according to the state testing program.

Hours before Gist’s resignation was announced, Walters—a self-professed crusader against the woke agenda—took to Twitter to share a librarian’s TikTok that was altered by the alt-right “Libs of TikTok” account to show her pushing the “woke agenda.”

“Democrats say it doesn’t exist. The liberal media denies the issue. Even some Republicans hide from it. Woke ideology is real and I am here to stop it,” he tweeted.

That morning, the librarian’s school, Ellen Ochoa Elementary in Union, received a bomb threat that district officials connected to the TikTok.

In July, the Oklahoma Board of Education agreed to Walter’s demand that they delay a decision on Tulsa’s accreditation while other districts’ status were voted on. Walters had argued the so-called “severity” of Tulsa’s issues justified another month of review.

On Thursday, the state board is scheduled to meet to weigh Tulsa’s accreditation status. It is unclear how Gist’s exit might affect the meeting’s outcome. A spokesperson for Walters told The New York Times on Tuesday, “Everything is still on the table,” an echo of a refrain favored by the state superintendent in recent weeks.

Gist began working for the Tulsa district, which comprises some 34,000 students and 3,000 teachers, in 2015. The district board voted 4-3 last September to extend her contract through 2026, according to the Tulsa World. But now, on Wednesday evening, the board is expected to meet to appoint Gist’s interim replacement, district administrator Ebony Johnson.

Source by [author_name]


News7h: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button
Immediate Peak