TPS executive meeting discusses Stitt’s call to audit school district

TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) executive meeting was primarily behind closed doors Thursday night after Gov. Kevin Stitt called for a special audit of the district.

In a tweet from Thursday, Stitt accused TPS, one of the largest districts in the state, of potentially mishandling COVID relief money.

Stitt said TPS received over $200 million in federal funds, but TPS schools stayed closed for more than 300 days.

“Board members, parents, students and teachers deserve to know how that money’s been spent,” said Stitt.

Stitt said he’s also concerned TPS schools taught critical race theory, which is banned by House Bill 1775.

This comes after TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said last week there were concerns about an employee within the talent department misusing funds and causing a possible financial loss. She addressed that at Thursday’s meeting, and said the employee in question has resigned.

“The component that caused me to believe there was a problem was less than $20 thousand,” said Gist. “I think we’re looking to make sure how something like this would happen given the very tight controls we have in place as a public entity.”

“We welcome anyone who would like to come and take a look at the work we do. I have complete confidence in our management of funds, and when something goes wrong, we will act swiftly and decisively,” said Gist.

Two TPS Board members reached out to Stitt internally and held a press conference Friday.

Current State Superintendent and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joy Hofmeister issued a statement following Gov. Stitt’s announcement.

“Stitt is diverting attention away from his dismal record on education. The governor has a pattern of retaliating against people who don’t personally support his every whim. We saw that last week at the Department of Veterans Affairs and we’re seeing it again here.”