President of TPS Board asks State Board of Education to reverse accreditation decision

Tulsa Public Schools

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Public School Board President Stacey Woolley is asking the State Board of Education to reconsider its decision to penalize the district.

The issue is over an alleged violation of an Oklahoma state law intended to limit discussion on race and gender. House Bill 1775, also known as the Critical Race Theory Bill, prohibits the teachings of particular subjects on race and sex in Oklahoma classrooms.

In July, FOX23 reported that the Oklahoma State Board of Education voted to demote Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) to “accreditation with warning.”

Woolley sent an email to State Board of Education members, asking them to revisit their voter and determine there was no infraction on TPS’ part. In her email, Woolley explained there were several reasons the members should reconsider — including the lack of evidence, timing vs. when the rule went into effect and that there was not the type of bias in the training that the law prohibits.

You can read Woolley’s full email below:

Hello and good afternoon.

I do not believe we have had the pleasure of meeting, but I have served as the President of the Board of Education of Tulsa Public Schools for the past 2 years. It has taken me a couple of days to get over the initial shock and begin processing the vote which occurred on July 28th regarding Tulsa Public Schools’ alleged violation of HB 1775. I honestly believed that, when presented with all the evidence, there would be a reversal of the recommendation that it be recognized as a violation. I am writing to ask that you revisit this vote and determine there was no infraction. Please allow me to clarify why I believe this reversal to be a more appropriate path than what occurred last week.

First, implicit bias, which appears to be the issue at hand, is not about a person’s bias that is informed or inherent in their race, sex, or other inherited trait. It is solely about one’s lived experiences and how those experiences shape their view of the world. It is how we generalize behaviors and stereotypes that we experience in our own environment. This is not what the bill or your resultant rules claim to prohibit.

Second, and most important from my perspective, is that the incident reportedly occurred prior to the emergency rules even having been voted on by your board. (Based on what I have found, the professional training occurred in August 2021 and the passage of the emergency rules did not occur until September that same year.) I’m certain that applying the law retroactively or ex post facto is not legal. Additionally, it does not seem that the evidence was actually presented to you (which might explain how the vote was achieved) but that the teacher’s statement of the event and the feelings it caused the said teacher was enough to satisfy a breach of the law.

Finally, I want to thank you for your time and consideration of this request. As a lifelong public school advocate, there are few things I am willing to donate my time to like I am for public education. I have 5 children of my own, have fostered several more, and am particularly passionate about literacy as integral to lifelong opportunity. I serve on the Board of Tulsa Public Schools to fight for liberty, equality, democracy, individualism, unity, and diversity. Values that almost all Americans proclaim to believe in - and values I’m certain we share. I tell you this because I think it is important that we acknowledge and appreciate all the ways in which we are much more alike than different if we are to find success for all the students we serve.

Thank you again for your time and I appreciate your work on behalf of the students and families of Oklahoma.

Stacey R. Woolley