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After 40+ days of no representation, TPS board reopens D2 application

Tulsa's flood control plan includes multi-use drainage basins, like the athletic field at Will Rogers High School. It doubles as a detention pond for overflowing storm water.
Joe Wertz
StateImpact Oklahoma
The athletic fields at Will Rogers High School are seen. The high school is in Tulsa Public Schools District 2, which has not had a board member for a month and a half.

The board has agreed to try to fill the District 2 seat without special election, but only after a month and a half of deadlocked votes and absences from special meetings.

It’s been 43 days since District 2 in Tulsa Public Schools has had representation on the school board, and board president Stacey Woolley hopes that will change after yesterday.

At the school board meeting last night, the members voted unanimously to reopen the application process for the District 2 seat. The board has decided to retain six of the original applicants — Wes Alexander, Paul Hall, Diamond Marshall, KanDee Washington, Jasmine Stewart and Kevin Pearson.

From there, the board will narrow the field and eventually pick the new member. Woolley hopes to have the member selected by March 20.

According to state law, the board has 60 days to appoint a replacement, or a special election will be held. Former District 2 board member Judith Barba Perez stepped down at the end of January for personal reasons.

The vote on Monday night followed nearly a month and a half of 3-3 votes on candidates — with all the "no" votes cast from Jennettie Marshall, E'Lena Ashley and Jerry Griffin — and a special meeting where the same three board members didn’t show up.

As a result, District 2, which runs on either side of Interstate 244 between downtown and Highway 169, has not been represented for almost a month and a half.

"That means that there's been seven regular or special meetings of this board where my community has not had a voice or a vote," said Ana Barros, a District 2 resident. "Yeah — that's 42,000 residents, 62% of whom are Black and brown, who have had no one to turn to when their schools and their district have not met their needs."

Barros mentioned a dangerous crosswalk outside a school in her district that she wanted to get fixed, but she didn't have a board member to speak to about the

After the meeting, Woolley told reporters she agreed to reopen the application process in order to fill the seat as quickly as possible.

Despite previous meetings, Woolley said she has faith in her board to not let the process drag out any longer.

"Everybody on our board recognizes that possibly waiting until September for District 2 to have representation is just simply too long, and the cost of having two elections around $70,000 is just not necessary," she said.

Applicants Sharita Pratt and Quinton Brown, who were selected as the two finalists in the original pool of applicants, were not named in the six original applicants who would be retained in the process.

During the application process, Pratt’s expunged misdemeanor, and Brown’s temporary ban from Booker T. Washington High School and suspended felony sentence, were brought up. Pratt accused Broken Arrow resident Larry Williamson of visiting her house about her application to the board, and of taking away her chance at the board by bringing up her expunged misdemeanor.

Woolley said Pratt and Brown are not who the board members want, which is why they were left off the list of retained applicants.

After the vote, Pratt said she still has a voice in the district, even if she’s not on the school board.

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS. A Tulsa native, Bryan worked at newspapers throughout Arkansas and in Norman before coming home to "the most underrated city in America." Several of Bryan's news stories have either led to or been cited in changes both in the public and private sectors.