Tulsa Public Schools is the first district in Oklahoma accused of violating a new state law that regulates how districts teach about race and gender.
At the June meeting of the State Board of Education, an attorney informed board members the state received a complaint saying a staff training event in the Tulsa district violated the new law.
They said an investigation shows that is true.
"We did conclude there was a violation of House Bill 1775," Brad Clark, OSDE Attorney.
House Bill 1775 bans teaching that said quote, "a person, by virtue of race or sex, bears responsibility for any actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex."
It also bans teaching that causes students “discomfort, guilt, anguish or psychological distress” due to their race or sex.
The State Board Of Education's rules say this is not limited to just classrooms, but also training sessions, seminars and professional development for staff.
The agency said it looked over the training materials in question before ruling Tulsa Public Schools did violate the new law.
“In conclusion, it was a close call, but we believe the spirit of that training, or the design of it, was contradictory….in violation of the law," said Clark.
"This is only the third complaint we’ve received statewide since HB 1775 was signed into law. Two of the three have been about Tulsa Public Schools. We found no violation in the first complaint, and it was not a close call on that complaint," said OSDE in a statement.
In a statement, Tulsa Public School told News on 6:
We hold hundreds of educator professional development opportunities each year. To meet the state’s annual requirement that school districts offer a training about “race and ethnic education,” we provided an implicit bias training created by Vector Solutions. Vector is a national company that works with school districts across the country. In March 2022, one individual made a complaint about this training, and the Oklahoma State Department of Education has made us aware of their finding of a deficiency related to that complaint. We anticipate receiving a written explanation of the deficiency within the next few weeks.
“The district said that they were going to, even if they used the training, they were going to make sure they correct that," said Clark.
The state department of education did not identify or discuss the content that specifically violated the law.
The OSDE recommended ‘accreditation with deficiency’ for Tulsa Public Schools in response to a professional development training provided to staff earlier this year.
The agency said, "A deficiency provides notice that they are not compliant in all respects with this area, and asks they correct it within a reasonable timeframe. A deficiency is defined as noncompliance, but it does not detract from the educational quality."
The Department of Education will deliberate and vote on the recommendation at the July Board meeting.