MUSTANG, Okla. (KFOR) – Mustang Public Schools is asking the State School Board to reconsider its accreditation being downgraded for allegedly violating the state’s anti-critical race theory law.

“My goal is to restore accreditation status to no deficiencies,” said Charles Bradley, the MPS Superintendent. “Take out Mustang, insert your school district, because all it takes is one complaint and what I saw at the state school board meeting is a rush to prove that you broke the law. And facts don’t really necessarily play a part in that.”

In July, the board voted 4-2 to dock both Tulsa Public Schools and Mustang Public Schools to accreditation with warning.

According to state standards, that means the schools “failed to meet one or more of the standards and the deficiency seriously detracts from the quality of the school’s educational program.”

This demotion was for the districts violating House Bill 1775, better known as the law that bans public schools from teaching concepts associated with critical race theory.

Despite the differences between each district’s violation, to be consistent with their Tulsa decision, board members voted 4-2 to label Mustang as accredited with warning, as well, though OSDE recommended accreditation with deficiency.

Tulsa Public Schools asked for reconsideration the first week of August.

Now, Mustang Public Schools has sent an appeal request letter to the state board.

“When I learned that Mustang was being discussed in an open meeting of the State Board, I was surprised and quickly turned on the live stream only to hear the vote that Mustang Public Schools would be Accredited with Warning for the 2022-23 school year,” said Superintendent Charles Bradley. “To say I was in shock would be an understatement.”

Bradley says the district was unaware it was in violation of the law, let alone that their accreditation was on the line.

He also says the district was not given an opportunity to discuss this incident with the board.

“In fact, I have yet to hear from a member of the State Board or the State Department of Education in an official capacity to discuss the decision,” said Bradley. “…in order to afford Mustang Public Schools with due
process, and for there to be an open dialogue so that all parties can be on the same page and make an informed decision, I request that the Board revisit this decision in a Special Board Meeting or at the next Regular Meeting of the Board.”

Mustang Public Schools’ demotion stems from a classroom activity that took place in January 2022.

“This was something that was directly related to students…” said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

Records say the lesson was meant to “show that each student has different experiences in life,” and talked about “how important it is to treat others with kindness and respect since people never really know what others are going through.”

However, the report says, “the activity made students feel uncomfortable by answering questions on if they had felt discriminated against, bullied or acted in that manner towards others.”

“Mustang Community reported this violation, and it was actually in a classroom, and they took care of that, but let the Department of Education know,” said Hofmeister.

On Tuesday, Bradley told KFOR that the classroom activity included a question along the lines of “if you’ve ever been made fun of or picked on because of your race or ethnicity, take a step forward or take a step back.”

He said the issue was quickly resolved internally and was eventually reported to the state. 

In his letter to the school board, Bradley says the activity was voluntary and therefore may not have even violated the law.

He added, “this was a singular isolated incident by a single employee, out of over 1,600 employees, which has now led to severe consequences for an entire district of over 13,000 students.” 

Accreditation Tiers
Accreditation Tiers, courtesy of Oklahoma State Board of Education

“I submit to you that the decision to lower Mustang’s accreditation to Accredited with Warning was not fair, but it was, instead, equal,” said Bradley. “…the decision to downgrade the accreditation status of Mustang Public Schools should be vacated and the accreditation be restored to Fully Accredited with No Deficiencies. In absence of that, I would ask that, at a minimum, the Board amend the original decision to match the recommendations from the State Department of Education and vote to levy Accreditation with Deficiency for 2022-23.”

Bradley stressed that he wants the opportunity to present the facts of the incident to the board in person. 

Brad Clark, general counsel for the OSDE says they have received the letter and the request is under review.

KFOR has also reached out to all of the state’s school board members and is still waiting to hear back. 

The districts’ accreditation statuses will last for one year.