Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to produce in-depth and investigative journalism on public-policy and quality-of-life issues facing the state.

Oklahoma Watch is non-partisan and strives to be balanced, fair, accurate and comprehensive. Our goal is to promote and deepen public and private debate that makes a difference in the lives of Oklahomans.

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Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Two former teachers have filed lawsuits against Epic Charter Schools, alleging they were fired for pushing back against pressure to manipulate the enrollment of their students.

Notices that the teachers intended to sue were previously filed with the school, as reported by Oklahoma Watch in June. Two other teachers who filed notices have not yet filed lawsuits.

Flickr / Matthew Burpee

Backers of an approaching law allowing Oklahomans to carry a gun without training or a permit say they’re willing to test compliance with the law by showing up in certain places carrying a firearm.

These so-called Second Amendment “audits” have already occurred involving weapons, with permits, in parks and the Oklahoma City Zoo. But with a permitless carry law set to take effect Nov. 1, some supporters say they’re willing to visibly bear a firearm without a permit to ensure authorities honor the law.

What Comes Next After Opioid Ruling?

Aug 27, 2019
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said there is no question Monday was a “day of reckoning” for pharmaceutical companies that helped accelerate the spread of dangerous opioids across the country.

Minutes after Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman announced his order for Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its role starting and exacerbating Oklahoma’s ongoing opioid epidemic, Hunter triumphantly declared that the pharmaceutical company will “finally be held accountable” for the thousands of deaths and addictions its products caused in Oklahoma.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A state investigation into Epic Charter Schools has expanded to include the school’s chief financial officer and four current or former board members, according to a search warrant filed in Oklahoma County Wednesday.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A state investigator’s search warrant filed in court Tuesday seeks evidence of alleged embezzlement of state funds and obtaining money under false pretenses at Epic Charter Schools, including through the use of “ghost students” who receive no actual instruction at the school.

Epic and and its two co-founders, David Chaney and Ben Harris, are the subject of a state law enforcement investigation, according to the seven-page affidavit and warrant filed in Oklahoma County District Court today.

Vaccination has become a dirty word at the Oklahoma Capitol.

Public health policies that drew little attention for decades are now so politically toxic that few lawmakers want to take a recorded vote on the issue. And fewer still feel comfortable talking about updates to the state’s vaccination schedule or getting rid of certain vaccine exemptions. Even bills mandating vaccine information for adults are shot down as they wend their way through the legislative process.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Tulsa liquor wholesaler Bryan Hendershot had a lot of money on the line when the Senate voted 34-11 to pass Senate Bill 608 on Monday.

The legislation, which passed the House earlier by a single vote, seeks to roll back a narrow part of 2016’s voter-approved alcohol-sales reforms by allowing top wine and spirit brands to be sold by all distributors in the state, instead of allowing manufacturers to decide who can sell their wine and spirits.

Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

It wasn’t publicized locally, but within the past few years teams of health officials at two Oklahoma health facilities took rapid actions to contain the spread of a fungal “superbug” that federal officials have declared a serious global health threat.

Only one patient at each facility was infected, and both patients recovered. But the incidents reflect the growing alarm among health officials over the deadly, multidrug-resistant Candida auris, or C. auris, which can kill 30 percent to 60 percent of those infected.

WHITNEY BRYEN / OKLAHOMA WATCH

Election officials are gearing up to remove tens of thousands of Oklahomans from the state’s voter rolls – a controversial practice voting-rights advocates say can lead to disenfranchised voters.

Oklahoma is one of seven states that allow election officials to remove names from the state’s voter registration list if they haven’t voted in several election cycles and don’t respond to address confirmation mailings.

That process, which is done every two years in Oklahoma, will begin this April.

Tulsa Public Schools

At all elementary and middle schools and some high schools in the Houston Independent School District — 220 in all — every student begins the day with a free breakfast right in the classroom.

The result: fewer absences and discipline problems and an increase in math scores, according to the district’s former superintendent Terry Grier.

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