4 Tulsa City Councilors Write Open Letter About TPS Accreditation Issue

Some Tulsa City Councilors signed an open letter about the Tulsa Public Schools accreditation issue.

Friday, July 28th 2023, 5:32 pm



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Some Tulsa City Councilors signed an open letter about the Tulsa Public Schools accreditation issue. 

The State School Board plans to vote on it, one week after school starts. 

In the letter, the councilors said a downgraded accreditation would have a regional impact, when it comes to recruiting businesses and employees.  

"It seems that taking away accreditation may potentially be on the table,” District 4 Councilor Laura Bellis said.  

In an open letter to the State Board of Education, four Tulsa City Councilors outlined how they believe the consequences of a lower accreditation would have an impact outside the classroom.  

"We have major economic impact concerns, both from if it's removed or if there's a downgrade, and what this would look like for teacher recruitment and retention, especially in our teacher shortage is deeply concerning,” Bellis said.  

Bellis taught at TPS for five years.  

"I'm not saying the school district's beyond reproach,” she said. “There are absolutely things that can be improved upon and that i'm sure the district wants to work on to be better." 

Last year, the board lowered the district's accreditation to the warning status, two steps away from losing accreditation, over what it deemed to be a violation of House Bill 1775.  

"And people said, 'Well what does this mean?' And the answer is, for families, not really anything,” Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said. “For us, it means that we need to make sure that we are doing whatever adjustments that we need to make to make the improvement or to ensure that we don't have that violation again in the future."  

This year, TPS said it is facing two district-wide deficiencies and three warnings for individual schools.  

Superintendent Gist said the district is taking steps to fix everything.  

"There are solutions to these already in place,” she said. “So there should be no concerns that Tulsa should have, based on what we know right now."  

TPS said those five issues it is facing deficiencies and warnings for, involve turning in a report a week late, an embezzlement case, incorrect teacher certifications, and a coding error for one teacher in the system, saying that person was a science teacher, instead of a "coteacher."

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