A new board will oversee online charter schools, but it's short five members

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Authority to oversee the state's online charter schools and some brick and mortar charters moves to a new nine-member board next month.

But just four of its members had been selected as of last week, according to the current oversight agency, which dissolves when the new board takes over July 1. Four members isn't enough for a quorum; five are required for the board to conduct business. (Feels like déjà vu...remember this story?)

Created by the Legislature in 2023, the Statewide Charter School Board will replace the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board. It's the only entity able to sponsor online charter schools, of which there are seven, including the St. Isidore 0f Seville Catholic Virtual School, which faces legal action challenging its ability to receive public money under the state and federal constitutions.

Statewide Virtual Charter School Board Executive Director Rebecca Wilkinson on May 30 said only four board members have been named. They are: Ryan Walters, state superintendent; Kitty Campbell, designee for the State Auditor & Inspector; Brian Shellem and Angie Thomas, both appointed by the governor. That leaves a third governor's appointee seat unfilled along with two each by the Senate President Pro Tempore and the Speaker of the House.

Spokesmen for Pro Tem Greg Treat and Speaker Charles McCall did not answer why they have not made the appointments, which were due Oct. 31.

Wilkinson said if a board is in place, they plan to hold the first meeting July 8.

And there's an update to our May 26 story on Walters. The Legislature last week approved a spending limits bill that included a section prohibiting the Department of Education from spending on self-promotional public relations like the contract it has with Vought Strategies. After about an hour of discussion, the House of Representatives approved SB 1122 by a 57-35 vote.

As of Wednesday, the bill awaited Gov. Kevin Stitt's action. The bill lays out the department's entire funding for the fiscal year beginning July 1, and the public promotions ban is just one section of that.

Stitt could sign the measure, or he could veto it. Or he could potentially line-item veto that specific spending limit.

Questions, comments, story tips? Please reach out via email or direct message.

— Jennifer Palmer

Recommended Reading

  • Illinois' lax laws on homeschooling leaves children at risk for educational neglect. [ProPublica]
  • A state lawmaker says Superintendent Ryan Walters' top adviser is a ghost employee. He's requesting an investigation by the attorney general. [The Oklahoman]
  • The state Department of Education's administrative rules didn't receive a House vote. The rules move straight to the governor, who is expected to approve them. One of the rules ties a school's state test scores to accreditation, threatening closure or state takeover of some schools. [Oklahoma Voice]

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