Tulsa Public School Board shuts down parent comments

Parents who want to speak before the Tulsa Public School Board (TPS) must first get approval from the school board’s lawyers, reports KTUL TV news. 

District parent Kathy McDonald signed up to speak at a meeting a few weeks ago about the district’s sex education policy and was surprised when she was told the district’s attorney hadn’t yet approved her remarks.  

“They said I couldn’t speak, and I said, ‘Why can I not speak?’ I signed up three weeks ago, you have to do this seven days in advance. And they said, ‘Because the school district’s attorney hasn’t approved you to speak,'” McDonald said.

“I think we the people of Tulsa deserve better,” she added.

One former Tulsa teacher said that the procedure violates his right to petition his government and violates his right to free speech.

“I think a lot of people would be shocked to learn that before you’re allowed to speak it has to be approved by, ‘lawyers.’ Lawyers have to approve it. And I’m thinking, do I get a lawyer too? Do I get a lawyer to argue my case that I have a constitutional right to petition my government? But apparently, apparently, I don’t,” retired TPS teacher Michael Phillips told KTUL.

It’s not the first time TPS has been accused of being hostile toward public comments in meetings or bullying parents.

Last year, when parent Melissa Remington simply asked in a public budget hearing what the actual district enrollment was, the board deflected her question. 

Instead of answering, Stacey Woolley, board president, later released a statement citing the various statues and policies that govern school board meetings, none of which addressed the issue of comments at a public meeting.

“I just find it odd that the board president chose to make an actual statement, but has my phone number, has my email address, made the choice to again deflect from the question, what is your enrollment? And decided she doesn’t value my opinion,” said Remington.