Tulsa Public Schools ended Chinese language program weeks before Oklahoma Superintendent's Congressional testimony
State Superintendent Ryan Walters testified earlier this month to Congress on the issue of Tulsa Public Schools’ contract with a Chinese language program. But according to the district, its contract was canceled nearly a month before Walters’ testimony.
Walters testified Sept. 19 that the “district maintains an active connection with the [Chinese government] through a program called the Confucius Classroom.” But TPS says it ended its contract nearly a month before, on Aug. 25.
Asked about the timeline at a press conference Thursday, Walters said the district had stymied his requests for more information, and he hadn’t yet been told about the contract termination when he testified.
“We did not get information from them in the time that we requested,” Walters said. “We continued to ask for all information available, and we continued to see roadblocks from the district.”
But according to an email correspondence obtained by StateImpact between TPS and the State Department of Education, the district made the department aware of the contract termination the week before Walters testified otherwise, on Sept. 15. The department had asked for the information on Sept. 7.
Asked about Walters’ claims of TPS withholding information, Interim Superintendent Ebony Johnson said at a press conference Thursday that was the first she was hearing of it.
“I’ll just say that I wasn’t aware that there was no responsiveness [to] Superintendent Walters reaching out,” Johnson said. “I will say that any time any — whether it’s our state department or others, reach out to our district to get information, our communications team is very responsive. That’s the first I’ve heard that there was no response to questions that he’s asked about that information. But we are always willing to be responsive and answer questions as they come to us.”
This article will be updated should Walters’ office respond to a request for comment.