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TPS accreditation threatened after one teacher complains about training materials

A complaint filed with the state Department of Education. A teacher in Tulsa Public Schools speaking on condition of anonymity said the complaint was authored by science teacher Amy Cook.
Tulsa Public Schools
Open Records Request
A complaint filed with the state Department of Education in February 2022. A Tulsa Public Schools teacher speaking on condition of anonymity said the complaint was authored by science teacher Amy Cook.

The Oklahoma State Board of Education will vote Thursday morning on whether or not to downgrade Tulsa Public Schools’ accreditation.

The vote is based on a complaint alleging the district violated HB 1775, a law restricting the teaching of racial or sexual concepts that could make students feel negative emotions. Among other things, the law prohibits school officials from teaching that “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”

Rep. Regina Goodwin of Tulsa says the complaint is based on the opinion of a single teacher with an agenda.

“As serious as this is, if you do this for just one teacher, and it’s not legitimate, then Lord help us,” said Goodwin.

Following an Open Records Request, TPS sent Public Radio Tulsa a copy of the teacher’s complaint filed directly with the state Department of Education.

The complaint says the teacher was forced to take a training course that included statements that “shame white people for past offenses in history.”

Though the name is redacted, the complaint is signed by a science teacher at Memorial High School. Another teacher in the district who spoke on condition of anonymity said the teacher is Amy Cook, who has previously been investigated by TPS for allegedly setting up a prayer corner in her classroom and telling a student they’d “burn in Hell.”

As for the materials in question, TPS said they couldn’t provide those due to copyright laws. Goodwin said she saw the materials, though, and she doesn’t think there’s anything illegal. The state declined to point out the exact violation to Goodwin.

“Yeah, that doesn’t take a lot of time. If you got issues, if you’re saying the law was violated, identify. Show me where that is. Just do that portion and send it to me,” said Goodwin.

In the complaint, Cook wrote she had to go directly to the state department because after “searching for over an hour” she couldn’t find a way to officially complain to TPS.

The education board’s meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and will be held at 2500 N. Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City. According to the agenda, public comment is allowed, though space and time are limited.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.