Most members of the Oklahoma State Board of Education have just been replaced.
Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office announced four new appointments in a press release about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday. It was the second day of Stitt’s second term and second day in office for new State Superintendent Ryan Walters, whose candidacy Stitt championed.
The only members carrying over into Stitt’s second term are his two most recent appointments to the board, Trent Smith and Sarah Lepak.
Lepak will continue to represent Congressional District 2. Smith has now been appointed to represent Congressional District 5, replacing Jennifer Monies. Smith previously served as the board member for Congressional District 3, but recent redistricting changed his residency.
Donald Burdick, chief executive officer of Olifant Energy II, replaces Carlisha Williams Bradley in the District 1 seat.
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For Congressional District 3, Marla Hill, a home school teacher of her five children, will replace Smith.
For Congressional District 4, Kendra Wesson, owner of Operation Accounting Inc. in Norman, will replace Brian Bobek. Wesson ran for election to District 46 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives but lost with 45.5% of the vote in the Nov. 8 general election to 54.5% for incumbent Democrat Jacob Rosecrants.
Suzanne Reynolds, a licensed pharmacist who has served in higher education at different universities, including the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, will serve as the at-large member. That leaves Estela Hernandez, who has served as the at-large member, as no longer on the state board, although she was not mentioned by name in the governor’s press release.
Reynolds offered public comments at the July State Board of Education meeting in support of a Tulsa teacher who filed a House Bill 1775 complaint against Tulsa Public Schools and urged the board to assess the “strongest possible penalty.” That complaint resulted in state sanctions against TPS’ accreditation status.
“This person was acting as a whistleblower about her experience as a teacher. The complainant was harassed in an attempt to silence her in revealing her identity.” I commend her for her courage and her brave act. I was especially motivated to come before you because I am an educator who experienced this attempt at indoctrination,” Reynolds told the board at the video recorded meeting.
“I have some sense of the humiliating task the complainant had to endure. As a health care provider and former faculty member at the University of Oklahoma, I endured diversity, equity and inclusion training during a two-hour faculty webinar entitled ‘Unlearning Your Transphobia and Homonegativity,” in which I was told that I was socialized into believing there are only two sexes when there are actually 10.
“I was also urged and shamed into using what they call `inclusive language,’ a firm belief in the gender unicorn and explained fabricated genders and experiment with pronouns. I found this to be a direct assault on my civil rights, my freedom of religion, speech and thought.”
Senate confirmation is typically required for State Board of Education appointments.