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Tulsa Public Schools accepted a board member’s resignation on Monday evening. Judith Barba Perez, representing District 2, put in her resignation at the most recent TPS board meeting.
According to Perez, her family is leaving Tulsa for other opportunities. “After almost two years of serving as a board member I am resigning from my seat effective Monday, January 23rd,” she said.
The Tulsa Public School board accepted her resignation at a 5-1 vote. Perez abstained from the vote.
However, Tulsa Public School board member Jerry Griffin voted no to the resignation. Griffin further requested that Perez’ resignation take place immediately.
Griffin’s request was denied. According to state law, the Tulsa Public Schools board has 60 days to appoint a new board member.
Perez was the first first-generation immigrant to serve on TPS’ board. Perez said, “I hope that another strong advocate will step up to serve in my place … and show first-generation immigrants that they need to be here.”
TPS provides support and advocacy for its immigrant students and their families. According to Mollie Howell at the Kerr School, “It’s important that parents know whenever they drop their kids off for school that we’re doing every single thing that we can to keep their children safe, and protecting their information is one of the ways that we keep them safe.”
The 1st first-generation immigrant to serve on Tulsa’s school board
In an interview with The Black Wall St Times, Perez highlighted her achievements as a TPS board member. “I am proud that I motivated more community members — especially Spanish-speaking community members — to start attending board meetings.”
She continued, “While I was a board member, we doubled the speaking time for Spanish-speaking community members from five minutes to 10 to provide translation. The room where we held board meetings is now a safe space for immigrants.”
Meanwhile, controversy surrounds the Tulsa Public Schools board’s right to appoint a board member to Perez’s place. The most recent TPS board election saw a number of controversial candidates.
According to Griffin, citizens should “pick whoever they want to represent that district instead of we six people picking someone.” However, TPS rules call for the board to appoint someone within 60 days.
If the board cannot agree on a representative, however, TPS will hold a special election. The seat Perez occupied has two years left in its term.
TPS Board Member Dr. Jennettie Marshall stated, “We’ve always been able to select a replacement for the board member that resigned. The big thing for us to remember is that we need to get that seat filled as quick as possible because no district should be left without representation,” she said.
Perez has high hopes for her successor. “I hope the next board member reaches out to the community, as I did, including students. While parental involvement is essential, students are the ones attending school Monday through Friday.”