Mid-Del Superintendent, Ryan Walters Argue Over Alleged Financial Misconduct

KOKH - January 26, 2024 6:25 am

Rick Cobb(right) and Ryan Walters(right)

A superintendent accused misspending funds in his district called out Ryan Walters at today’s State Department of Education (OSDE) meeting.

Mid-Del Supt. Dr. Rick Cobb says Walters’ claims are false and disrespectful.

“You’ve disrespected my district,” Supt. Cobb said. “You’ve disrespected the hard-working people in Mid-Del who always conscientiously, always diligently put in the hours to make sure we are serving our students to the best of our ability with the resources we have, and in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. You’ve also disrespected me. I’ve worked directly with federal programs at the district level for 16 years. Those of us who do this work day in and day out don’t just give blanket approval for funding requests.”

Dr. Cobb is referring to what Walters said at a Senate Subcommittee meeting earlier this month.

“[Mid-Del] spent $500,000 on lawn care that is expressly prohibited in federal rules and regulations,” Walters said on January 11.

Cobb disputes that claim, saying his district constantly communicated with OSDE to make sure they followed instructions.

“If accusations such as these are to be made, I, as the Superintendent of Mid-Del Public Schools, shouldn’t first hear of them during a Senate Subcommittee budget hearing,” Dr. Cobb said. “If you or your staff want to question from current or prior fiscal years, you know where to find us. I know you have my number.”

He says OSDE even approved those funds.

“Words matter, and facts matter. When you spread misinformation, you only deepen the teacher shortage and cause us to rely on emergency and uncertified teachers. No retraction, and no correction completely undoes the damage.”

After hearing what Cobb had to say, Walters doubled down on his accusations after the meeting.

“Very defensive for someone who’s been caught misusing funds,” Walters said. “That’s what you saw right there from him. He’s been a terrible steward of taxpayer dollars. He’s misused federal funds. Our agency will hold him and his district accountable.”

Walters says Cobb is spreading lies to cover up Mid-Del’s financial mismanagement.

“That’s a joke. Our federal programs people are in contact with people every week. They’re very aware of their issues. You heard his lies today to try to cover it up, so we’re not going to tolerate it. We’re not going to tolerate the misuse of taxpayer dollars. We’re going to continue being good stewards of those, and hold those individuals accountable that are misusing funds.”

Supt. Dr. Cobb ended his speech with a request for Walters and his agency.

“On behalf of my community, I implore you to do better and to be better,” Supt. Dr. Cobb said.

Walters shared the following statement with Fox 25:

I have rarely seen a school official as defensive as Rick Cobb was today as he spread lies to cover up his district’s financial mismanagement. There are rules regarding how federal grants are spent that his district simply did not follow, and now we are engaged in the process of cleaning his mess up. I will not allow Oklahoma schools to mismanage hard-earned taxpayer money, and it’s unfortunate that Cobb lacks the same commitment.

Our newsroom asked the district for Cobb’s response to Walters’ comments, but we haven’t heard back.


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