State Accreditation Director Outlines Past Sanctions Against Troubled School Districts

The state school board is set to vote on Tulsa Public Schools' accreditation in three weeks.

Monday, July 31st 2023, 6:28 pm



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The state school board is set to vote on Tulsa Public Schools' accreditation in three weeks.  

The state’s Accreditation Standards Division is sharing what the consequences have been in the past for troubled schools and districts. 

The state's Executive Director of Accreditation, Ryan Pieper, outlined some of the most aggressive action the state has taken against schools in recent history when it comes to accreditation, saying students are in a better place today because of it.  

The former charter school SeeWorth Academy lost its accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year, after the state said it wasn't complying with federal programs, and it impacted graduation credits.

The district closed its doors and students were absorbed by OKC Public Schools.  

Another situation involved the Western Heights School District in OKC, which was accredited with probation in for the 2021-2022 school year, after the state said the district had issues with financial audits, its nutrition program, and the district disabled the fire suppression system. It's the only district "takeover" Ryan Pieper can recall in state history.  

"With Western Heights we had an emergency takeover of that school district and myself and two other SDE employees went in to try to help and fix things in collaboration with the wonderful staff that was already there, and that lasted almost a full school year,” Pieper said.  

Pieper has served as the director of accreditation for four years, and as an accreditation officer for five years before that. He said he could not recall another situation where the state school board decided to push an accreditation vote by a month, like it just did for TPS. TPS will learn its accreditation status one week after school starts.  

"I can certainly understand a school being uneasy about that,” he said. “My understanding is, is that the board wanted a little bit more time to look into the accreditation issues that they're facing. The recommendation of my team and I, unless new information is found, will not change." 

Those recommendations include two district wide deficiencies: one for turning in a report a week late, another for an embezzlement case. There are also recommendations for three warnings for individual school sites, which all have to do with incorrect teacher certifications. 

"I'm very proud of the team I get to work with and I am very resolute on the recommendations that we made,” he said.  

The different levels of accreditation, according to OSDE, are as follows: 

Accredited With No Deficiencies

Accredited With Deficiencies

Accredited With Warning

Accredited With Probation

Nonaccredited

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