Several School Districts Head Into Semester With Lowered Accreditation

Wednesday, August 3rd 2022, 6:32 pm

TULSA, Okla. -

Several school districts in Oklahoma are going into the new school year with a lowered accreditation status from the state.

The state voted for Mustang and Tulsa Public Schools to be given the "Accredited with Warning" status last week.

There is a variety of reasons districts have that lowered status. State documents show everything from financial issues, to not being compliant with tornado and fire drills.

Eleven school districts across the state are going into the new school year with the "Accredited with Warning" status, two steps away from losing state accreditation.

The state school board voted for Tulsa and Mustang Public Schools to have this status for violating HB 1775, the new law that regulates how race and gender are taught.

The OSDE said TPS also failed to meet criteria for state testing procedures. Nine other districts were also given that lower status.

For example, the state said Wanette Public Schools, in the central part of the state, is at risk of insolvency.

Documents show the district has “IRS tax liens for unpaid payroll withholdings.... and the debts due to the state are ‘unknown.’”

Wanette Public Schools said in a statement, "In regard to the warning given by SDE, we believe it was improper and are engaged in the process of review."

Also on the state's list for Accreditation with Warning is the Greenwood Leadership Academy, now run by TPS, for not being compliant with its tornado drills. TPS had no comment Wednesday on that status.

Documents show Solid Foundation Preparatory Arts Academy has two reasons for its lowered status: not having a policy on felony record searches, and not being compliant with its program on recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect.

In a statement, the district said in part, "Both of those items have been resolved and been reported to the responsible authorities."

The state said Tuskahoma Public Schools, a rural district south of McAlester, exceeded its administrative cost by more than $95,000, credit card purchases lacked documentation, and there were "inaccurate date certifications" related to the superintendent's salary, among other things.

The new superintendent, Randall Erwin, emailed News On 6 a statement saying in part, "The very worst part of the Accreditation with Warning is that we are being put on warning at the end of the 2021-22 school year for findings that occurred in the 2020-21 school year."

Tulsa Public Schools said it doesn't know what this new status means for its district.

To read more about what the State Board of Education was recommended by the OSDE last week, click here, then “District-Site Accreditation Recommendations” to download the document outlining each district’s recommended status.

Editor's Note: TPS and Mustang will not be found on the Warning section of the spreadsheet, because OSDE says it recommended those districts be labeled with other statuses, but the board voted for them both to be labeled with the "warning" level. OSDE says this document was a handout for the board, before the vote took place.