STATE SUPERINTENDENT RYAN WALTERS COMPLIES WITH HOUSE SUBPOENA

News 9 - December 27, 2023 8:14 am

Ryan Walters complies with House subpoena Dec. 26, 2023.(News 9)

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters has complied with the subpoena recently issued by the members of the House Appropriations and Budget Education Subcommittee

Rep. Mark McBride, (R-Moore) released a statement acknowledging Walters’ compliance.

“I appreciate Supt. Walters’ quick compliance with the subpoena, and I have begun reviewing the delivered documents to ensure that they contain all of the information that was requested. As Chairman of the Appropriations and Budget Education Subcommittee, I exercised my power to subpoena the superintendent to produce these records, but I wish it would not have had to come to that. My focus has always been, and will continue to be, doing what is best for Oklahoma students. It is my hope that moving forward, the extreme, but sometimes necessary, process of using a subpoena will not be needed, and the superintendent will more openly and willingly communicate with members of the Legislature. The Legislative Branch is constitutionally charged with oversight of the budgets of certain departments, including the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). Additionally, our responsibility as elected officials is to work together for the betterment of our state, not continuously fight to earn political clout or obfuscate the process of government. I will continue to review the subpoenaed documents with the hope that they fully answer the committee’s questions and give us a more complete understanding of the processes and procedures of the OSDE under Supt. Walters’ leadership. I thank him again for his swift compliance, and hope for a less adversarial working relationship in the future.”

McBride recently said that transparency and communication between OSDE and the legislature is the only way forward.

Story Timeline: Oklahoma State House Subpoenas Supt. Ryan Walters

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters was subpoenaed by the state House on Tuesday, December 19th 2023.

At the time, Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, wrote:

“As the branch of government charged with appropriations and oversight, the Legislature has a responsibility to make sure that taxpayer dollars are being spent properly by the agencies and departments under its purview. Myself, and many of my legislative colleagues, have repeatedly tried to communicate with the superintendent and his staff about these important issues. With the amount of tax dollars being spent by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE), legislative oversight of this spending is crucial. We have tried to work with the Superintendent, like we do with all state agencies, but have been met with a lack of transparency and increasingly unprofessional conduct. As Chairman of the Appropriations and Budget Education Subcommittee, I am constitutionally bound to ask questions, and statutorily entitled to have them answered, of the leadership of the legislatively appropriated OSDE. As those questions have not been answered, and no voluntary answer is forthcoming, I have exercised my power as Chairman to subpoena the superintendent to produce the records and communications requested by the committee. Where taxpayer money is concerned we must be diligent. The time for playing political games is over, and the time for answers is at hand. My focus is, and always will be, doing what is best for the children of Oklahoma, and the only way we can do that as a Legislature is to get basic questions answered properly. I look forward to reviewing the subpoenaed documents, and their timely delivery to my office.”

Click below to view subpoena:

 

McBride says he tried to work with Walters and his chief policy advisor Matt Langston, but after many requests for basic information were left unmet, he says he had no other option but to issue the subpoena. “They need to stop using our kids as their political pawns – that’s the big thing,” said Rep. McBride.

“I don’t believe that they’re trying to better the state of Oklahoma. If you were, why can’t you answer my questions?” asked Rep. McBride.

The first response McBride got back from OSDE was a letter from Langston, on OSDE letterhead, calling McBride a “whiny democrat.”

“I don’t want him to set the precedent that an agency head and his staffer can thumb their nose at the legislature,” said Rep. McBride.

Matt Langston provided another statement on December 20, saying;

“Instead of worrying about staff, McBride should be more worried about his representing teachers unions and caucusing with Democrats. If he is going to represent them, he might as well switch parties. McBride should join Superintendent Walters in the fight to keep porn out of schools, end union leadership, and end DEI to better serve Oklahomans.”

The subpoena demanded Walters turn over the following items:

  1. Details on a teacher recruitment program that Walters discussed during a media interview.
  2. Details of failing schools and what Waters is doing to help those schools get back on track.
  3. An update on the Metrics Software $2 million expenditure from SB 36X and how it is, or is not being utilized by OSDE and/ or schools.
  4. Details on procedure behind Policy Advisor, Matt Langston’s response to state lawmakers.
  5. A copy of applications from 950 teachers Walters said have applied to teach in Oklahoma from out of state.
  6. All emails sent to [email protected] from September 10, 2020, forward, that related to the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability.
  7. Copies of all correspondence between OSDE and Chairs Baker and McBride regarding document requests.
  8. Any emails, texts, or other communications between Walters and Matt Langston regarding the responses to document requests from Chairs McBride and Baker.

Also attached to the subpoena are four letters from McBride to Walters, requesting the above items, including the “final request” on December 6th. All four of these letters were signed as “delivered” by an OSDE staff member.

 

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