Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist Responds To Walters 'Improvement Plan'

State Superintendent Ryan Walters focused his attention on Tulsa Public Schools Monday night and called for TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist to step down. Dr. Gist addressed the media just after 11 p.m. Monday to talk to parents and faculty about Ryan Walters' comments.

Tuesday, August 8th 2023, 10:37 am

By: Tess Maune, News On 6


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State Superintendent Ryan Walters focused his attention on Tulsa Public Schools Monday night, revealing certain criteria for the district to meet to avoid further strikes against accreditation and calling for TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist to step down.

Dr. Gist spoke to parents, faculty, and media about Ryan Walters' comments after the School Board meeting.

Related Story: Walters Announces Guidelines For Tulsa Public Schools This Year; Calls For New Leadership

Tulsa Public School Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist Reacts To Announcement By Ryan Walters

Gist said she met with Walters in Oklahoma City last week where they talked for less than 30 minutes about his concerns. She said before she could get back to Tulsa from that meeting, she was already reading statements that Walters was planning on taking over the district similar to a scenario that just played out in Houston. Gist said Walters claimed there were multiple years worth of audits looking into Tulsa public schools and she said she told him that was not accurate.

"It's categorically untrue. I told him that on Friday when we sat down. He either did not seem to understand how audits work or was actively ignoring the facts about how audits work. One or the other,” said Dr. Gist. "That was Friday, This is Monday and it's being repeated. Despite the fact that the paper is there, this is not my opinion. It's the opinion of an auditor who comes in every year and conducts an extensive review and offers an unbiased and official opinion about those financials. Those are available to the public. They're out there. We've shared them."

Related Story: Parents, Supporters Of Tulsa Public Schools Rally Before School Board Meeting

Dr. Gist said her focus right now is on students and teachers ahead of the school year which begins August 17th.

What Did Ryan Walters Say About Tulsa Public Schools?

State Superintendent Ryan Walters laid down a list of guidelines and benchmarks for the Tulsa Public Schools this upcoming year and called for new leadership while a vote on the district's accreditation status looms. Walters, under his TPS Improvement Plan, said he wants to see the district re-orient finances to serve students, increase reading proficiency scores to the state average, and get TPS schools off the F-List.

This comes after a slew of meetings over the past several weeks with the State Board of Education regarding that district's accreditation status. The State School Board plans to vote on the accreditation issue one week after school starts. An official vote date has not been set. The district's accreditation is currently in the warning status. 

The TPS district was found to have been in violation of House Bill 1775 last year, which regulates how sex and gender are taught in classrooms. 

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