Garrett: Tulsa-area school boards violating their oaths of office

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On Friday, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett spoke to CapitolBeatOK regarding the decision by several Tulsa-area school boards not to obey House Bill 3393, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program Act.

"When I took office as Superintendent of Public Instruction, I swore an oath to obey federal and state laws. I have sought every day to uphold that promise. Whether or not I like a particular law is not material. It is my job to obey the law and to implement it.

"The way I look at it, the local officials on these boards of education who have acted not to comply, or to prevent implementation of this program in their districts, are not fulfilling their duties.

"I believe they are in violation of their oaths of office. This law was passed, and implemented in a timely manner by the state.

"To be clear, in my work every day there are laws I don't necessarily agree with but which I am required to carry out."

Garrett concluded, "I think these school board members have been ill-advised."

Garrett is retiring at the end of this year after more than 20 years as State Superintendent.

An October 6, 2010, CapitolBeatOK story has some interesting details about the scholarship program and the number of students involved:

The Oklahoma program is similar to laws in Florida and Georgia that have easily withstood legal challenges. The Florida program has been in place since 1999 and now serves approximately 20,000 students with special needs. The scholarship program was designed not to require new spending, but to redirect existing state funds that are currently spent on the student.

School officials claimed the transfers authorized by the scholarship program would somehow harm their financial standing, but only seven students have applied for the scholarships at Jenks and eight at Broken Arrow, according to the Tulsa World. Both schools are among the largest in the state.

Somehow I don't think it will take the law firm of Rosenstein, Fist, and Ringold much time to burn through the amount of money that would cover such a small number of scholarships.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 16, 2010 12:13 AM.

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