Lack of urban qualifications forced board members to vote no on OKCPS superintendent

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OKLAHOMA CITY - It's official: Dr. Sean McDaniel is Oklahoma City Public School's newest superintendent. He, however, was not everyone's top choice.

Two OKCPS board members voted no on his hiring, claiming McDaniel doesn't have the qualifications to turn around an urban school district, with more than half the population being students of color.

"It was very, very diverse pool," said board chair Paula Lewis. "We had women. We had, well, okay, let's clarify, so who we interviewed is who we knew as far as diversity would be."

The district's legal department told News 4 that 35 candidates applied for the position.

Somehow, age, race and gender were not gathered as part of the application process, so staff don't have the data.

As far as their academic qualifications, the district said the applicants had a variety of levels of education and experience.

"There were people of color, there were some black candidates, Hispanic, white and there were women, men," said board member Charles Henry. "So, there was a diverse pool of candidates. I won't necessarily say there was a large diverse pool of candidates."

Board member Ruth Veales said at Tuesday's meeting that more than 80 percent of students of color make up the district's population.

"The candidates in our final interview have come from districts who do not have the same challenges that our students face daily," Veales said.

Veales and Henry both voted no.

"To me, personally, it doesn't matter what color the superintendent is, whether the superintendent is black, or white or Hispanic but I think the superintendent should have some cultural experiences in understanding urban district," Henry said.

Board chair Paula Lewis stands by her vote.

"He's very much the right candidate for this position," Lewis said.

Lewis said she believes McDaniel will turn things around at the district.

"We need a person, and he is the right person for all seven districts and he is willing to learn," Lewis said. "He's willing to listen first. He's willing to, then, learn what we need him to do and, then, lead."

Henry said, regardless of his vote, he is willing and ready to work with Superintendent McDaniel.

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