Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education votes to approve resolution supporting lawsuit against State Board over charter school funding

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education voted to approve a resolution in support of a lawsuit filed against the State Board of Education regarding charter school funding.

The State Board of Education voted last week to settle a lawsuit from 2017 from the State Charter Schools Association that will give charter schools the same level of funding as public schools.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said last week that it is against the law.

“This is unconstitutional because it is basically telling taxpayers, ‘We’re going to tax you and take your money, but you’re not going to have the kind of control of what those funds will be used for.’ This is protected in the Constitution,” she said.

Oklahoma City Public Schools

Oklahoma City Public Schools released the following statement:

“On March 31, 2021, OKCPS, as an intervening defendant, filed in Oklahoma County District Court, a Petition for Cross Claims against the Oklahoma State Board of Education. After no activity in the case for a year, the State Board took unexpected, sudden and unlawful action on March 25 to seek to equalize funding among charter schools, including virtual charter schools. A resolution was passed which seemed to be an attempt to settle the lawsuit, although the two intervening parties, OKCPS and TPS were unaware of the proposed resolution.

Tonight, April 2nd, the OKCPS Board of Education voted 7-0 to approve a resolution supporting the litigation against the State Board’s action and calling for the Oklahoma State Board of Education to lawfully meet to rescind its March 25 action and resolution. Those present for the meeting, the executive section and the vote include Board Chair Paula Lewis, Vice Chair Mark Mann and Members Rebecca Budd, Carrie Jacobs, Ruth Veales, Gloria Torres, and Meg McElhaney. Board Member Charles Henry did not attend or participate in tonight’s meeting.” 

OKLAHOMA CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

“When there’s any kind of conflict, which actually is how this lawsuit began, then it is one that could produce others who then object to going over the line in a really troubling way,” Hofmeister said last week.

The Oklahoma Public Charter School Association was pleased with the Board’s decision, saying last week it levels the playing field.

“I think as charters have been radically underfunded for many years, this will help to bring back to what still aren’t adequate funding levels,” said Chris Brewster, president of the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association. “We certainly would’ve never pursued this if we had believed it would be unconstitutional. But that is of course for the courts to decide if they saw fit, and we would yield to the laws of our land as we would expect any other public entity to do.”

Some groups, like the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, say they plan on taking a legislative approach against the State Board’s vote. 

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