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Following public outrage and nationwide scrutiny, the Oklahoma State Board of Education unanimously voted for Tulsa Public Schools to maintain local control on Thursday. The board, despite State Superintendent Ryan Walters’ public threats, voted against a state takeover of the district. Instead it accepted the accreditation division’s recommendation to accredit TPS with deficiencies.

While many are hoping the vote means tensions will cool, the threat of more violence against schools continues to linger.

In total, four bomb threats in four days as of Friday have been reported this week at Ellen Ochoa Elementary School and the home of their librarian. They were sparked by the same right-wing extremist fears of “woke indoctrination” that State Superintendent Ryan Walters continues to perpetuate on social media.

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters leads a meeting at the Oklahoma State Board of Education during a vote on the accreditation status for Tulsa Publics Schools on on Thursday, August 24, 2023. He’s remained silent about the three bomb threats in three days at a public school in Tulsa after a video he shared sparked outrage. (Photo by Chris Creese / The Black Wall Street Times)

While the district is separate from TPS, it resides in the same city, along with the families and friends that call Tulsa home. Neither Walters nor a single board member acknowledged the threat on Thursday. A third bomb threat in Tulsa was reported during the meeting.

“The OSBI is not investigating this case. Thank you for checking,” Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Public Information Officer Hunter McKee told The Black Wall Street Times on Thursday. When asked if a federal agency was handling the case, he didn’t immediately respond.

Meanwhile, a close friend of the targeted librarian at Ellen Ochoa Elementary Schools said she faces an impossible decision to resign and protect kids or stay and risk potential harm.

On Friday, following the fourth bomb threat in four days at the school and an hour after the initial publishing of this article, Supt. Walters released a statement.

“Any threats against Oklahoma schools, our children or other officials is reprehensible and absolutely unacceptable. There is an ongoing investigation into the nature of these threats, and I know the full weight of our law enforcement agencies will be brought to bear against those who would threaten our kids,” Walters stated.

According to Walters, the OSBI is now investigating. Yet when The Black Wall St. Times reached back out to OSBI for clarification, we were told nothing has changed.

“We have not been requested to assist with that case,” PIO McKee said. “We are not investigating that incident.”

Meanwhile, the video that sparked the threats is still shown as a retweet on Walters’ Twitter/X account.

TPS “under construction” Board member Dr. Marshall says

The vote means leadership, such as the new interim TPS superintendent Ebony Johnson, federal funding, and the amount of school transfers won’t change in the immediate future. But the authoritarian-style threats from Walters during the meeting sent a warning to the district’s students, teachers, parents and local elected officials. A state takeover remains an option.

“I would advise Tulsa Public Schools and their leadership: Do not test me,” Walters said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes for these kids.”

Issues impacting the district remain under “construction” as TPS Board Member Jennettie Marshall explained to the board at Thursday’s meeting. She helped convince the board to avoid harsher action, such as putting it on probation or completely dissolving it.

After the vote, she told The Black Wall St. Times her goal was to show the board that Tulsa Public Schools is working to correct the issues criticized by the board, such as transparency, financial oversight, and reading test scores.

Tulsa Public Schools District 3 Board Member Dr. Jennettie Marshall. (Photo by Chris Creese / The Black Wall Street Times)

Other districts face similar problems in reading and math scores. Yet Walters has targeted Tulsa ever since a state law was enacted in 2021 that outlaws lessons on race and history that make White students or parents feel uncomfortable.

“They listened to their own department, but they also listened to the cries of elected representatives for Tulsa Public Schools,” Dr. Marshall told The Black Wall Street Times. She says she’s confident in the new interim superintendent and hoping to quickly get the district back on track.

Ryan Walters has no comment on bomb threats, lawmaker seeks impeachment

TPS doesn’t have long to satisfy Walters’ lust for power and control over the district with the second-highest population of Black students.

The Board is requiring TPS to submit monthly in-person reports on the status of their goals for improvement. Walters and his carefully appointed crew also warned that another vote on the future of TPS could take place in three months.

Meanwhile, the inciting Tiktok video that misleads the public into thinking a librarian who loves books has a radical agenda to harm kids remains on Ryan Walters’ government Twitter/X account.

Hours after the State Board of Education accreditation voter for TPS, Democratic state Rep. Mickey Dollens called on state lawmakers to begin impeachment proceedings against Supt. Walters.

“Due to Ryan Walters’ persistent weaponization of his office, three bomb threats have been made against an Elementary school, putting innocent lives at risk,” Rep. Dollens stated. “I call upon Speaker McCall and Sen. Greg Treat to immediately start the impeachment process and let us vote to remove Walters before irreversible harm is inflicted.”

Meanwhile, some of his far-right Republican colleagues have already responded with the same kind of attitude as the White southerners who ignored investigations into attacks against civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.

Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Nathan Dahm, a former state lawmaker who made a sexist remark about Vice President Kamala Harris, mocked KFOR for reporting about a “do nothing democrat state rep as if it was actually news.”

Lawmaker seeks deescalation of rhetoric

A small crowd came in support of Walters, but a majority of those in attendance, including Democrats and Republicans, expressed support for Tulsa Public Schools maintaining local control.

Oklahoma state Rep. Mark McBride chairs the House Education Appropriations and Budget Committee. He’s been one of the few Republicans publicly critical of Walters’ racially demonizing attempts to rile up his base against diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

“My thing is I’m all about education. Teachers, students and things like that. I’m not about this rhetoric of whatever political office he’s seeking next,” Rep. McBride told The Black Wall Street Times after the vote.

Oklahoma Republican state Rep. Mark McBride. (Photo by The Black Wall Street Times)

The new requirements for Tulsa Public Schools to report monthly on the progress of Walters’ demands represent a temporary colonization of TPS by the State Board.

Rep. McBride said he wants to loosen those chains.

“We need to put some implementations in place so the needle’s not getting moved every month. I think legislatively we can set some things in place.”

McBride said he’s glad Tulsa avoided a state takeover and criticized Walters for ignoring the bomb threats.

“He’s big on having his opening prayer. I think we would be praying to deescalate what’s going on instead of escalating what’s going on. I hope they find this person and it stops because I’m afraid one of them might be real down the road.”

On Friday, a fourth bomb threat was reported.

Rep. Monroe Nichols, a Democrat running for Mayor of Tulsa, said Ryan Walters’ words have real-world implications in a state that produced the Oklahoma City Bombing and the Tulsa Race Massacre.

“His words and his actions have radicalized a wave of fundamentalist cowards who are victimizing our kids on a daily basis,” Rep. Nichols said. “We’ve seen the damage when leaders use their platforms irresponsibly.”

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...

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