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TPS board stalls charter school contract renewal, approves another vape settlement

Tulsa Honor Academy Flores Middle School
Tulsa Honor Academy
THA Website
Tulsa Honor Academy Flores Middle School

Tulsa Public Schools has temporarily halted the reapproval of a charter school’s contract with the district.

At the TPS Board of Education meeting Monday night, several members of the public spoke in favor of renewing the district’s three-year contract with Tulsa Honor Academy. However, board member Diamond Marshall moved to postpone the renewal until the next meeting. Marshall cited concerns she said students and staff had relayed to her about alleged racist behavior at the school.

Marshall recounted a recent visit she took to THA.

"The Black Student Union shared with me that there were a lot of racial slurs," Marshall said, "one in particular, the n-word, hard 'r,' was being passed around by other students of color, namely the Latino students, to the Black students."

Marshall also said the the issues extended to those who work at THA.

“Members of the staff also joined that meeting to share that there was not adequate action taken to address the concerns of the students," Marshall said, "that led to students and faculty feeling unsafe.  And, consequently, staff members have left and some have been terminated for reasons unbeknownst to them."

Marshall clarified she did not want to "make bold allegations about the school," but she called the alleged issues "alarming."

The board voted unanimously to table the renewal to allow more time to investigate.

Tulsa Public Schools' Board of Education during a regular meeting on Oct. 2, 2023.
Ben Abrams
Tulsa Public Schools' Board of Education during a regular meeting on Oct. 2, 2023.

After the meeting, Marshall clarified she supports the work THA has done.

"My intent is to renew THA and I’m fully confident in the leadership at THA to provide the information that I need to make a decision," Marshall said, "I just wanted to make sure that I did my due diligence..."

Latest vaping settlement approved

The school district will also be receiving around $162,000 after a nation-wide settlement from a vaping company.

The TPS board approved the settlement agreement with tobacco company Altria, parent of Philip Morris, after the manufacturer closed a deal to pay over 1500 school districts across the country.

TPS previously accepted a similar deal with Juul Labs in March, receiving around $541,000.

The tobacco companies were hit with lawsuits over their marketing of vaping products to minors.

The next TPS board meeting is scheduled Oct. 16, 2023.

Ben Abrams is a news reporter and All Things Considered host for KWGS.
Check out all of Ben's links and contact info here.