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A Brief Primer On Tulsa School Board Elections
John Neal, All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre
John Neal, All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

A Brief Primer On Tulsa School Board Elections

All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, John Neal, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

LOCAL & STATE


Editor’s Note: With elections for the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education scheduled for April 2, 2024, The Oklahoma Eagle is continuing to provide information on the candidates for each district for the benefit of our readers. See  our previous report: Board Candidates Are Seeking Your Votes (March 8, 2024)  

School board elections nationwide have taken on more importance than ever as local school boards grapple with several pressing issues. First, the hot topics are student learning losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, a chronic shortage of teachers, and ideological issues which in earlier eras were not prominent in non-partisan school board elections and decision making. 

Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) is grappling with these and other issues. The upcoming TPS board elections on April 2, 2024– in which three of seven seats on the board are under contest – has brought discussion of these topics to the surface in Tulsa.  

The elections next month will be for representatives for north-central District 2, south-central District 5; and south-east District 6. 

The candidates are the following: 

District 2:

Calvin Michael Moniz, 38. Website: https://www.moniz4tps.com/ 

KanDee Washington, 56. Candidate’s Facebook: KanDee Washington for Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education  

District 5:

John Thomas Croisant, Incumbent, 46. Website: https://www.johnfortps.com/ 

Teresa Pena, 58.  Website: https://www.teresafortps.com/ 

District 6:

Maria Mercedes Seidler, 68. For more information on Seidler, visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/mmseidler/ 

Sarah Smith, 45. Website: https://www.sarahsmith4schools.com/ 

Tulsa Public Schools is the largest public school district in Oklahoma with slightly over 33,000 pupils. With 79 percent minorities, it is a remarkably diverse district. And with 80 percent economically disadvantaged students, it is also facing significant challenges. 

In the past couple of years, TPS has been subject to special scrutiny and monitoring by the Oklahoma School Board of Education (OSBE), the state’s public school accreditation agency. The Tulsa school district is currently operating under “Accreditation with Deficiencies.” The district, unique among Oklahoma schools, has been called on to provide monthly in-person monthly updates to OSBE on efforts to improve academic performance and other issues the State Board has targeted for improvement. 

Ryan Walters, president of OSBE, was elected to be Oklahoma’s Superintendent for Public Instruction in January 2023. In this capacity, Walters has targeted TPS with harsh criticism. His attack led to the resignation of past TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist in August 2023. Walters has repeatedly threatened to wrest control of the school district operation from the local school board. 

Elections and issues 

The elections on April 2 could determine the direction of the Tulsa school district and shape the course of its academic and financial direction under newly appointed Superintendent Ebony Johnson. Johnson is under immediate pressure to improve student academic performance in state testing the last half of this 2023-24 school year. 

Special scrutiny by the State Board is being placed on test scores and so called “failing schools, predominately located in Tulsa’s northside. The local school board has banded together to achieve higher academic performance and maintain local control. However, Johnson’s efforts to improve performance have displaced key administrative personnel and placed enormous pressure on teachers and staff with few additional resources. 

The local school board has been sharply divided on several issues. The most recent and perhaps divisive is a lawsuit that challenges the process used to elevate Johnson as superintendent. Prior to being named superintendent, she was TPS’s chief learning officer. 

See Also
All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, John Neal, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Two board members – Jennettie Marshall (District 3) and E’Lena Ashley (District 4) – initiated the suit. Both are African American, and neither is up for reelection. They have been at odds with the board majority on various issues. In their lawsuit, Marshall and Ashley object to the procedure the board used to select Superintendent Johnson.  

They seek to redo the selection with a nationwide search. The lawsuit also seeks to roll back some of Johnson’s personnel decisions and reset board agenda setting and deliberation processes. The lawsuit was amended in February seeking a ‘temporary injunction’ preventing TPS ‘from carrying out any further action under the authorization of Defendant Johnson’, thereby thwarting Johnson’s administrative actions and crippling efforts to comply with the State Board mandates. The District Court has not acted on this amended filing.”  

A massive state audit requested by the two board members is still in process. 

Spotlight on District 2 

Of the seven districts on the school board, District 2 is one of the most interesting and misunderstood. To help voters comprehend the dynamics as they weigh the choices in the upcoming election, The Oklahoma Eagle is providing some key facts about the district.  

All TPS Board of Education district boundaries were subject to mandatory redistricting following the 2020 U.S. Census. At the end of 2022, the TPS Board of Education adopted new district boundaries, which will affect district voting eligibility in the 2024 election. The board focused on changing as little as possible, but there were some boundary changes. 

The new boundaries for District 2 changed somewhat but still includes almost all the same schools as in prior years. Schools in District 2 include Emerson, Kendall-Whittier, McKinley, Mitchell, Owen, Sequoyah, Springdale, and Unity elementary schools; Carver Middle School and Rogers College Middle School; Phoenix Rising 9-12; and Rogers College and Booker T. Washington high schools. 

District 2 is the most diverse of all TPS districts. Stretching west to east along I-244, it encompasses residents on both sides of the interstate highway. It includes significant representations of predominately white (33%), African American (17%), Hispanic (36%), and other ethno-racial populations. 

District 2 Campaign Financial Reports  

Calvin Moniz filed financial campaign reports detailing $3,850 in campaign election contributions, including $2,900 from Lynn Shusterman.  

KanDee Washington has filed a Campaign Organizational report but has filed no other campaign report. Additional reports are only required when campaign contributions or expenditures exceed $1,000. 

The next financial report is due a week before the election. Single contributors are limited to $3,300 in a school board election.  

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