Gov. Stitt requests special audit of Tulsa Public Schools

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By John Dobberstein, Editor

Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday requested a special audit of the Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) into potential mishandling of state funds. The request was sent via letter to State Auditor Cindy Byrd.

Board members, parents, students and teachers deserve to know how that money was spent,” Stitt said in a statement. “I am also concerned that TPS may have violated state law, specifically HB 1775, which bans public schools from teaching critical race theory.

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Specifically, the bill prohibits teaching that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.”

Recently, TPS said it was cooperating with police after finding nearly $20,000 in contract management irregularities within the Talent Management Department.

TPS Supt. Deborah Gist said the problems were tied to one vendor contract in that department and no public money had been jeopardized.



In his letter to Byrd, Stitt said his request was due to “a threefold series of troubling events,” which he described below:

  • In a letter dated July 1, 2022, Tulsa School Board members for Districts 3 and 4 disclosed to me that most board members were left “in the dark” while the TPS Superintendent conducted an internal investigation into what one Tulsa World article described as “almost $20,000 in irregularities tied to a vendor contract within the district’s Talent Management Department.” According to Tulsa School Board Members, there is “substantiating evidence” that this mishandling of public funds “is not a one-time situation but a pattern of operation.”
  • Second, pursuant to federal law passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, TPS has been allocated three rounds of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, totaling a little more than $205 million. Although ESSER funds were intended to minimize disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and support the well-being of students, TPS stayed closed over 300 days — longer than any other school district.
  • Third and finally, sources have publicly indicated TPS may have conducted a training in contravention of House Bill 1775 and the administrative rules adopted in response to the legislation, which banned the teaching of critical race theory.

A special audit includes, but is not limited to “a compliance audit,” which is “designed to review items for management’s compliance with statutes, rules, policies and internal control procedures,” Stitt said. 

At the time of this post, TPS had not issued a statement about the Stitt's request.

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