State Lawmakers Introduce New Legislation After Teacher Signing Bonus Lawsuits

State lawmakers are working to clean up a teacher signing bonus program that resulted in two lawsuits.

Monday, February 26th 2024, 5:14 pm

By: News 9, Haley Weger


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State lawmakers are working to clean up a teacher signing bonus that resulted in two lawsuits.

The two teachers who filed suit were asked to pay back the $50,000 bonus that they were given by the State Department of Education.

Now House Education Appropriations Chair Mark McBride is working to ensure the bonus program is fixed going forward. “From the beginning, I've had somewhat of a problem with the teacher signing bonus from back last spring,” said Rep. McBride, ( R) Moore.

The State Department of Education rolled out the bonus program last year, promising teachers up to $50,000 to return to the classroom. But at least four teachers who were given that bonus were asked to return the money when they were told they no longer qualified for the program.

Two of the teachers sued OSDE for defamation, breach of contract, and other damages.

Now, Representative Mark McBride is filing legislation that would adjust the signing bonus program and give the legislature more oversight. “We didn't like the way the whole program was so we're just not turning $10 million over to OSDE without parameters on it like we've done so we don't get in the mess that's happened over the last few months,” said Rep McBride. 

Representative McBride has been critical of OSDE's program since it was announced. “I thought it was done improperly, I mean just giving somebody a $50,000 bonus right off the top wasn't the way to do it; there's no clawback hardly on $50 -grand.” 

Now McBride is introducing legislation called the “Return to Teach Signing Bonus Act” that he hopes will clean up the program and prevent future lawsuits. “The application process will be much more stringent than what the Department of Ed had,” said Rep. McBride.

The bill would incentivize any teachers who have been out of the classroom for at least five years and would pay them up to $35,000 over five years, instead of the previous one-lump sum. The program would also have a $10 million annual cap. “Going forward there will be no need to have a clawback because it will be year by year for five years,” said Rep. McBride.

The bill passed unanimously out of the House Education Appropriations Committee today and will now be eligible to be heard on the house floor.

Related: State Superintendent Ryan Walters Addresses Lawsuit From Oklahoma Teacher

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