EDMOND PUBLIC SCHOOLS ANNOUNCES OKLA. SUPREME COURT PETITION AGAINST DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, WALTERS RESPONDS

News 9 - February 21, 2024 6:25 am

Edmond Public Schools Board of Education has announced that they are filing a petition with the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

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The Edmond Public Schools Board of Education has announced that they are filing a petition with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to determine the validity of a rule from the State Department of Education.

The Department of Education, according to EPS, ordered the school to remove certain books from their high school library or their accreditation could be downgraded.

“EPS is not arguing the merits of any particular book, but is instead asking the Supreme Court to determine if the State Board of Education has the authority to lower a school district’s accreditation based on subjective opinions of high school library books,” EPS wrote in their announcement.

The rule that affected library books was handed to the school on Jan. 19th.

“As the filing outlines, the State Board of Education does not have the power to enact the rule it is attempting to enforce,” EPS said.

The announcement claims that the Oklahoma Attorney General advised the board that the rule would be unenforceable, and was unapproved by the legislature under Oklahoma law. In response, the Attorney General told News 9 that his response was in response to a specific rule from 2023.

Although Gov. Stitt approved the library book removal rule, EPS claims “his approval does not give an invalid rule the force of law.”

The announcement cited the previous EPS policy that informs parents to review materials in libraries. It also cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions that do not allow local school boards and superintendents to remove materials from public school libraries without following district policy.

“In short, the State Department of Education is requiring EPS to do something that is unlawful,” the announcement said. “This is a case of overreach where the State Department of Education has wrongly prohibited our locally elected school board from implementing and following its own policies regarding education and materials inside of our district.”

EPS Superintendent Dr. Angela Grunewald stated, “We did not ask to be in this position today, but the district has little choice. If we remove the books without following a long-standing policy, we risk being sued and forfeiting local control. If we do not remove the books, we risk the SDE lowering the district’s accreditation.”

Grunewald also stated that the district is now asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to delay any actions regarding the library books until the court decides if the rules are just under Oklahoma’s laws.

Superintendent Ryan Walters released the following statement in response to the petition:

“This is an ongoing subversion of accountability. Edmond Public Schools not only allows kids to access porn in schools they are doubling down to keep pornography on the bookshelves. Parents and kids should have the confidence of going to schools to learn. Instead of focusing on education, EPS has chosen to peddle porn and is leading the charge to undermine parents in Oklahoma.”

 

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