OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Republican Mark McBride gets confirmation on who has rulemaking authority at the Department of Education, after the Attorney General released an opinion clarifying the matter.
“Oklahoma law does not give the State Board of Education (SBE) the ability to make administrative rules without proper direction from the state Legislature,” said AG Gentner Drummond, in his press release Tuesday.
The opinion comes after last week’s vote at the State Board of Education when members approved two new administrative rules regulating the conversation over sexual identity in the classroom and on “pornographic” material in school libraries.
The AG said the new rules “cannot be placed into effect, and cannot be enforced by either the Oklahoma State Department of Education” or the State Board of Education.
State Superintendent Ryan Walters and the State Board of Education pushed ahead with those rule changes even after the Attorney General issued a non-binding opinion last month. Drummond said then that the rulemaking power rested with lawmakers, not OSDE.
Republican Mark McBride, R-Moore, asked for the opinion to clarify which body has the authority to make administrative rules.
“It’s like we said all along, the authority lies in the Legislature,” said McBride, in response to Tuesday’s opinion.
Since being elected, Superintendent Walters has expressed his concern with “pornographic material” in public school libraries.
Monday afternoon, he sent a packet to lawmakers and the media which outlined “books in question” and a timeline of events when certain books have been found in Oklahoma schools.
Five books were listed in question, but only three were found in Oklahoma schools and they were taken out of libraries before Walters was elected.
“Three times, we have proof, and it was taken out of the classroom out of what – 540 school districts in the state,” said McBride. “Has anyone said no I’m not taking it off the shelves? Those are the things that the committee wants to hear.”
Superintendent Walters and Rep. McBride have been in a back and forth feud regarding questions over OSDE, and a meeting between Walters and the House Education Budget committee.
McBride said he would give Walters ten business days to find a day to meet, but as of Tuesday Walters has not reached out to McBride.
The meeting is expected to reveal more information about OSDE administration and other topics discussed during Walters’ first three months in office.
“There’s questions about federal funding, there’s questions about the morale of teachers,” said McBride.
As of Tuesday, Walters had not reached out to McBride to set up a meeting.
But Walters did reach out to KFOR through a spokesperson saying, “I disagree with the Attorney General’s opinion.”