The Representative of District 2 on the TPS Board since 2021, Perez abruptly resigned last Monday, effective after the next meeting of the TPS Board, scheduled for January 23. Perez’s resigned because she is moving out of Tulsa. Her husband has accepted a new job out of state.
The position of District 2 representative on the Board is crucial to North Tulsa students, teachers, and parents. Districts 2 and 3 cover most of the Northside schools.
Applications for the appointment to fill the position on an interim basis must be made by January 20th. They can be made at any District 2 school, the website www.tulsaschools.org/board or the TPS Education Service Center.
At Monday’s TPS Board meeting, Board members differed in their opinions on how to fill the newly opened seat. Board member Jerry Griffin advocated a special election instead of a board appointment. He was rebuffed by other members who cited their responsibility as proscribed by state law.
According to Oklahoma statute, the TPS Board shall appoint a replacement to fill Perez’s position until the next election. The replacement will fill the seat until the election scheduled for the Spring of 2024. At that point, voters will select someone to finish the remaining year left on Perez’s term. Perez was elected to serve a four year term from 2021 to 2025.
The borders of District 2 are roughly North Greenwood, North Memorial, 11th Street, and North Pine. The seat represents eleven schools in North Tulsa, including elementary schools Emerson, Kendall-Whittier, McKinley, Mitchell, Owen, Sequoyah, and Springdale and Carver Middle School, Unity Learning Academy, Will Rogers College Middle and High School, and Booker T. Washington High School. Applicants must be registered voters residing at an address within the geographical boundaries of District 2 for the last six months and have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Following a discussion of the application deadline and other selection process issues, the Board set a deadline at 5:00 PM on January 20th to receive all applications for the seat. Interviews with applicants are expected to be conducted during the following week. Woolley added that the Board would “minimize the amount of time constituents are without representation.”
Dr. Jennettie Marshall, who represents District 3 and is one of two African Americans serving on the Board, said she was pleased with the Jan. 20 filing date. This allows sufficient time for prospective candidates to file an application for consideration by the board, she explained in an interview with the Oklahoma Eagle.
“The extension of time will provide those interested in serving with the opportunity to research the scope of responsibilities related to the position,” Marshall added. “Candidates should learn the district, understanding that the district is very diverse and deserves full representation,” she said.
Marshall said that candidates would be vetted by the board, whose members are sure to inquire about their related professional experience and opinions regarding matters recently considered by the committee. Considering the climate of spirited debate throughout the current term, she added, “I hope and pray that we don’t simply consider individuals because of ties to interest groups… that we listen to candidates’ commitment to working with all board members fully representing the district.”
A person of African American descent has often filled the District 2 board seat. Perez is a first-generation immigrant from Mexico.
She was elected to the Board in February of 2021 for a four year term. Born and raised in Zapotlan Del Rey, Jalisco, Mexico, Perez emigrated to the United States in 2014. She first arrived in California, then moved to Tulsa in 2015.
In the resignation letter Perez sent to the Board, she stated, “I will miss being strong and unapologetic for our immigrant and refugee communities at the table where decisions are made.” She urged other immigrants to “keep fighting to create safe spaces for your community-nobody else will do it for you.” At Monday’s Board meeting, Perez appealed to other Spanish-speaking persons potential applicants saying, “Two years ago, I was still learning English. I hope a strong advocate [for immigrants] will step in my place. They need you here.” Board President Stacey Woolley, in announcing the resignation, said that interviews to fill the vacancy could commence immediately following the application deadline. But she gave no date on when the Board will make a replacement selection. In the past, Perez’s frequent absence from the TPS Board meetings has divided the Board into 3-3 votes thwarting Board action.