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Henry Vetoes Oklahoma School Deregulation Bill

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Governor Brad Henry vetoed controversial Senate Bill 834 Friday afternoon.

Officially known as the School District Empowerment Program, the bill would have allowed local school districts to decide what, if any, state mandates to follow.

In announcing his veto, the governor said it would have turned back the clock on decades of education reforms.

Supporters said the bill would have given local districts more control and flexibility.

"While local control is an important component of a successful public education system, it is also critical to have rigorous state standards in place to produce the highest quality graduates and ensure achievement and accountability throughout the system," the governor said.  

Senate Bill SB 834 was passed by both houses of the Oklahoma legislature.

The votes went mostly along party lines -- in the Senate the vote was 25 to 22, in the House it was 60 to 39 -- and those margins indicate the bill would not have enough support for the legislature to override the veto.

House Speaker Chris Benge said he's disappointed by the veto and pledged to fight.

"In vetoing SB 834, the governor has denied school districts much-needed freedom to meet our educational goals," said Speaker Benge, R-Tulsa.  "We continue to believe those locally, including parents, teachers and administrators, know what is best when it comes to education in their local communities.  We aren't going to give up this fight for the children of our state."


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