Union Public Schools


The nonprofit Reading Partners is branching out after eight years in Tulsa.

The organization is bringing volunteer tutors to students at Union’s Roy Clark, Grove, McAuliffe and Peters elementary schools this fall. Reading Partners already serves more than two dozen Tulsa Public Schools sites.

Reading Partners Tulsa Executive Director Heather Kawlra said talks with Union administrators started about two years ago.

Another Tulsa school district is implementing a mask requirement.

The Union Public Schools Board voted 4–0 in a special meeting Friday in favor of mask mandates that apply to all students, employees and visitors while indoors on school property. The mandates kick in Wednesday but allow medical and religious exemptions, and people can opt out on the basis of "strongly held personal reasons."

Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler recommended the mandates earlier this week. Board member Dr. Chris McNeil was absent Friday.

Ninth through 12th grade students at Union Public Schools will be on distance learning starting Thursday through next week.

The district announced Wednesday students at Union High School, Union High School Freshman Academy and Union Alternative School will return to in-person school on Feb. 8.

"Due to significant teacher absences at the secondary level, we’ve reached the point where we do not have enough substitutes available to adequately cover classrooms at these grade levels," Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler said in a statement.


Tulsa Community College’s early college program is growing by two districts.

TCC has announced EDGE, which stands for “Earn a Degree, Graduate Early,” will be offered in Broken Arrow as well as Tulsa public schools in the fall. Eighth graders apply now for the program, in which students take college classes starting in 10th grade and earn an associate’s degree by the time they graduate from high school.

Union Public Schools officials announced on Wednesday all students will move to distance learning on Friday and won't return to their schools in person until Jan. 4.

As of Wednesday, Union had 27 staff members positive for COVID-19 and another 122 in quarantine, the highest numbers to date.

Oklahoma Watch

Union and Sand Springs public schools are the latest districts to move some students to distance learning plans because of impacts of COVID-19.

Starting Thursday, Union students in grades six through 12 and at Boevers Elementary will move to distance learning. Also on Thursday, Sand Springs secondary students in grades six through 12 will go to distance learning. Both districts currently plan to bring those students back on Nov. 30.

After 75 years in use, Union Public Schools is retiring its mascot.

The Union board voted unanimously Monday night to stop using a racist slur for Native Americans and Native imagery. Superintendent Doctor Kirt Hartzler has been with Union since 1986 and saw a previous effort to abandon the mascot derailed by concerns the push was coming from groups outside the district.

Hartzler said that changed a couple years ago.

Union Public Schools

Union Public Schools is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases in its third week of offering in-person classes.

As of Thursday, the district had 10 staff members and 22 students who had tested positive. When school started August 24th, 10 students had reported positive COVID tests.

Union also has 62 employees and 401 students in quarantine, and 12 classrooms have been closed across the district. Five Ellen Ochoa Elementary classrooms were closed Wednesday, and 111 students and seven employees were told to quarantine.


Several school districts in northeastern Oklahoma have announced closures due to the coronavirus.

Tahlequah Public Schools closed Monday and Tuesday "out of respect" for a high school teacher with COVID who died of a heart attack.

Vinita High School closed Monday morning and students were sent home after a student tested positive.

Beggs Public Schools has turned to distance learning after several students and employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

Union Public Schools

This story was updated at 12:34 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 11th, to note that board president Heather McAdams' hypothetical math is incorrect.

In a 3-2 vote, the Union Public Schools board of education voted against the recommendations of the Tulsa Health Department and their own superintendent that the school year begin virtually due to the severity of Tulsa County's COVID-19 outbreak.

Superintendent Kirt Hartzler and Associate Superintendent Charlie Bushyhead both made their case for the recommendation not to allow a return to in-person learning just yet.

Facebook / Union Public Schools

A Union Public Schools board of education member is facing scrutiny for an email response to concerned district parents regarding plans for back-to-school during the pandemic.

Adam and Michelle Palmer wrote board member Jeff Bennett an email expressing concerns over an in-person return to learning, which the Tulsa Health Department is recommending against due to the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in Tulsa County. 

"Perhaps this is not the time to put a lot of children in the same room/building for several hours a day," the Palmers wrote. 

The Union Public Schools Board has approved the district’s re-entry plan for the fall.

Students will either attend entirely in person or entirely online. While younger students will get district curriculum from a Union teacher, students in sixth through 12th grades will receive instruction through a contracted company.

Union Assistant Superintendent Sandi Calvin said it will keep high schoolers on-track for graduation, but there’s an important note for potential college athletes.