New controversial State School board member declines position just days after Gov. Stitt makes appointment

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Kevin Stitt

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City. Stitt announced Wednesday that he’s tested positive for the coronavirus and that he is isolating at home. The first-term Republican governor has backed one of the country’s most aggressive reopening plans, has resisted any statewide mandate on masks and rarely wears one himself. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Stitt removed a state school board member Friday and replaced him with an individual who has no experience with the Oklahoma Public Schools system and is staunchly opposed to face mask mandates; now, the new member is asking for the offer to be rescinded.

Melissa Crabtree is a member of the Enid Freedom Fighters, a group adamantly against mask mandates. On Friday, Gov. Stitt removed his own appointee, Kurt Bollenbach, and gave Crabtree his seat on the State School Board.

“It’s not a move that makes a whole lot of sense,” said Jacob Rosecrants, State House Representative for District 46.

“I don’t understand why the governor would pick somebody to fill a spot on the state board of education who has no experience with Oklahoma’s public education system,” said, Rep. Andy Fugate, District 94.

On Monday, Gov. Stitt rescinded the appointment after harsh blowback from educators and leaders across the state.

“I spoke with Melissa Crabtree today and she requested that I rescind her appointment to the Oklahoma State Board of Education.  
I was extremely disappointed to see how many were so quick to judge her without taking the time to personally speak to her.  
Ms. Crabtree is a loving mother and wife, and her public school teaching experience and work with special needs children would have been valuable assets to our state. 
However, it’s become clear that Democrats and unions only value the voices of teachers when they are willing to fall in line with their political agendas. That being said, I respect her decision and will rescind her nomination. We will reopen the search process and identify a new appointee as soon as possible.”

Gov. Kevin Stitt

Crabtree is a former special education teacher in Tennessee. She had four years experience between 1998 and 2002. Then, she transitioned to homeschooling her own kids and in-home advising for parents with special needs kids.

Crabtree also issued the following statement on Monday: 

“I am grateful to Governor Stitt for nominating me to serve on the Oklahoma State Board of Education and it is a tremendous honor to be considered. However, after careful consideration, I have determined that this is not the right opportunity for me to serve my state.”

Melissa Crabtree 

Gov. Stitt has replaced six board members since 2019. The only original member left who was not appointed by Stitt is Hofmeister.

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