The Oklahoma State Superintendent, Ryan Walters, did not clarify if his office applied for any federal education grants during a contentious state school board meeting. A State Department of Education whistleblower claimed that Walters refused to sign off on any applications. Without potentially $270 million, many schools in the state could cut res for programs like free meals, special education, Pre-K, and more. Tulsa parents expressed concern about the state providing enough res through federal funding to Title I districts, and school board members called for transparency and accountability in the handling of education grants.
As featured on a recent report from KJRH News, parents and educators in Tulsa, Oklahoma are growing increasingly concerned about the lack of federal education grants being applied for by the state Department of Education. At a recent state school board meeting, State Superintendent Ryan Walters was unable to clarify whether his office had even applied for any federal education grants, despite a whistleblower alleging that Walters had refused to sign off on any applications.
For parents like Shenaia Richardson and Kayla Edwards, the lack of federal funding could have serious consequences for their children’s education. “With (my daughter’s) special education, I mean, I think it’s what they need, and (the district) is already limited on staff,” Edwards said. “And if more staff is quitting because of possibly not receiving the grants and stuff then that could really affect her in the outcome.”
Similarly, Richardson worries that without proper funding, many students in the district could be left without the res they need to succeed. “For the other children, if their parents have to work a lot of jobs and don’t have that ability, I want that to be in the right place and for those kids,” she said.
The potential consequences of not receiving federal funding are significant. Without the estimated $270 million in grants, many schools in the state could be forced to cut res for programs like free meals, special education, Pre-K, and more. This could have a devastating impact on students who rely on these res to succeed in school.
Despite these concerns, Superintendent Walters has pushed back against claims that his office has not applied for federal grants. After a number of department employees resigned this month and a Republican state legislator accused Walters of not applying for aid, Walters called the doubters “liars.”
However, many educators and parents remain unconvinced. TPS School Board President Stacey Woolley, who spoke as a concerned parent during the State Board of Education meeting, told KJRH News that there simply aren’t enough answers about the funding situation. “We don’t really know all of the facts yet,” Woolley said. “The (Oklahoma) House and the Senate and everyone else in our legislature is working to find out what’s really going on right now with those grants. If those grants weren’t applied for that could be incredibly detrimental to all of our students.”
Ultimately, the lack of transparency and accountability around federal education grants in Oklahoma is causing frustration and concern among parents and educators alike. As Woolley noted, “people want not only transparency but accountability. And I think people will stay engaged in this.” It remains to be seen how the situation will be resolved, but for the sake of students in Tulsa and across the state, it’s clear that action needs to be taken soon.