Oklahoma City Public Schools considers legal action against state lawmakers

OKLAHOMA CITY - While lawmakers will likely be forced to head back to work early for a special session, a local school district is considering legal action against the legislature.

Budget cuts over the past several years have negatively impacted numerous state agencies, including the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

“I think it is unacceptable that we have four-day school weeks for our children. You’ve heard me say this but I have visited with major companies looking at moving jobs to our state and I’ve heard from several of them that tell me, ‘Governor, your state’s so poor you only fund schools for four days a week. How can I convince my employers, my businesses to want to come to your state when you won’t fund your schools? And I can’t find an educated, quality, skilled workforce if your people are uneducated in your state,” Gov. Fallin said in May.

Following the news of the budget shortfall in February, the State Board of Education revised the common education budget to reflect $50.2 million in cuts.

Officials say the adjustments were necessary, especially since the Oklahoma Board of Equalization also confirmed a $39.1 million shortfall to the Education Reform Revolving Fund.

Last month, Oklahoma City district leaders told NewsChannel 4 that school districts across the state are being forced to come up with their own money to pay for things like text books.

On Thursday, the Oklahoma City Public School Board announced that it was considering legal action against lawmakers regarding funding for education.

Oklahoma State Capitol

Over the past two years, officials say the budget for Oklahoma City Public Schools has been cut by over $30 million.

Oklahoma City Public School Superintendent Aurora Lora announced that the board is calling a special board meeting for Monday to discuss the process of filing a lawsuit against the Legislature.

Officials say the lawsuit or lawsuits will specifically be directed at the Legislature, including the Speaker of the House Charles McCall and President Pro Tem Mike Schultz.

"Over the past few years, Oklahoma's education funding has decreased dramatically. In fact, Oklahoma is first in the nation for cuts per pupil for education funding," said Oklahoma City Public School Board Member Mark Mann. "This is not sustainable for any school system. Oklahoma's legislative leadership has failed at their constitutional responsibility to provide textbooks for every child and their moral responsibility to put Oklahoma's children and their education first. While doing so, they have obstructed the Oklahoma City Board of Education from performing our constitutional role as intended. This is unacceptable. Legislative leadership has the chance to make this right. When they undoubtedly go into special session late as fall, they can fix the old conceived revenue measures that have been or will be struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. They can raise revenue. They can make our children a priority and fund education properly. Then and only then will our efforts cease. Make no mistake, we care about all Oklahoma students and this is why we are proposing this resolution. The board is prepared to exhaust all options including litigation in our fight to provide quality education to the children of Oklahoma City Public Schools and Oklahoma."

Lora says she has contacted other school districts in the area, but has not asked if anyone wants to join in the proposed legal action.