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Oklahoma Board of Education approves slate of new, amended rules at February meeting

State Superintendent Ryan Walters speaks with OKSDE legal counsel Bryan Cleveland at the Nov. 30 State Board of Education meeting.
Beth Wallis
StateImpact Oklahoma
State Superintendent Ryan Walters speaks with OKSDE legal counsel Bryan Cleveland at the Nov. 30 State Board of Education meeting.

The State Board of Education unanimously approved 15 new or amended administrative rules at its Thursday meeting.

To be enacted, permanent administrative rules must be adopted as a resolution by the legislature and approved, and then signed by the governor. The legislature can also decline to act on approving or denying a rule resolution, and the governor can then sign it without legislative action. Rules approved by the Board of Education must pass through this legislative process to go into effect.

StateImpact’s breakdown of the highlights from the new rules:

  1. Would tie test scores to accreditation levels. Districts would receive an academic deficiency if fewer than 50% of its third- through eighth-graders test at the “basic” level in English or Math. Next school year, if the district fails to show a 5% increase in those scores, its accreditation status will be downgraded again to Accredited with Warning. If it fails again to increase the following year, it will be downgraded to Accredited with Probation — one step above non-accreditation.
  2. Would penalize districts that maintain active employment of teachers under investigation for certificate revocation or employees under felony investigation if those investigations conclude in certain outcomes.
  3. Would add another accreditation level. “Accredited with Distinction” could be awarded to a district if all of its sites were found to have no accreditation deficiencies during the previous academic year.
  4. Would apply Gov. Kevin Stitt’s DEI executive order to K-12 schools. Districts would not be able to receive state funding if they support or maintain certain DEI programs. 
  5. Would subject teachers to potential dismissal for “sexual” acts. If, in the presence of a minor or in a manner available to a minor online, teachers are found to have engaged in “sexual acts, acts that appeal to the prurient interest in sex as found by the average person applying contemporary community standards, or acts that excessively promote sexuality,” they can be refused employment. Critics say it could be used as grounds to terminate teachers who engage in after-hours activities like drag performances, if those performances were recorded and put online. 
  6. Would require schools to adopt policies that permit teachers and students to engage in voluntary prayer, as well as enforce a daily minute of silence.
  7. Would remove OSSBA as an automatically approved group to provide professional development trainings. Like other programs, OSSBA would need to apply to OSDE for approval to provide trainings.
  8. Would institute a Declaration of Foundational Values to serve as a mission statement for guiding rules set by the board. For instance, in considering rules, the board should recognize things like, “good and evil are real and universal,” and that school instruction must elevate ideals, “commonly expressed by the people of Oklahoma… and the political conviction and knowledge that hard work conquers all.”
  9. Would require school personnel being reviewed by the State Board of Education for suspension or certificate revocation to notify the board if they intend to contest the measure. If they don’t, it will be considered an automatic confession to the allegations at issue.
  10. Would add the Classical Learning Test to the qualification options for recognition as an Oklahoma Academic Scholar and/or other state recognitions.
  11. Would add “Independent Contractors” to the list of parties subject to certain rules about parents’ rights to student information. If districts knew or “should have known” about a violation by an Independent Contractor, it would be held responsible.
  12. Would provide school sites an opportunity to review all data and calculations used in the school accountability system for school report cards.
  13. Would extend the deadline for districts to show cause that corrections are warranted for income and expenditure data submitted to OSDE through the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System.
  14. Would strike from existing rules on local school boards that board members “shall refrain from involvement or interference with the administrative functions of the school.” State Superintendent Ryan Walters said at the meeting this would mean local board members may not be barred from visiting school sites.
  15. Would require OSDE to annually review district websites to make sure they comply with the School District Transparency Act. If districts fail to comply after 30 days from receiving a notice from the department, they will receive an accreditation deficiency.

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Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter.
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