Last Updated on August 24, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Deborah Gist, superintendent of the Tulsa school district, has stepped down from her position amidst a heated dispute with State School Superintendent Ryan Walters. In an email to her district colleagues, Gist revealed that Walters had an unwavering focus on both the district and herself personally.
One of Gist’s primary motivations for resigning is to prevent a state takeover of the school district. Concerns surrounding the district’s accreditation will be deliberated upon on Thursday during the Oklahoma Board of Education’s monthly meeting.
The governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, and Walters have been openly critical of the district’s performance, with Stitt specifically pointing out the decision to close schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Walters has repeatedly denounced the district, claiming that it is plagued by scandal and significant issues.
Adding fuel to the fire, the State Auditor is currently conducting an investigation into alleged embezzlement within the district. These troubling circumstances have further escalated tensions between Gist and Walters.
Walters, however, views Gist’s resignation as a step in the right direction, believing that the district requires a dramatic change in leadership. Gist has held the position of superintendent since 2015, overseeing various initiatives and reforms within the school district.
To address the vacuum left by Gist’s departure, the Tulsa School Board will convene a special meeting to discuss the appointment of Ebony Johnson as her interim successor. This decision will be crucial, as the district strives to navigate through the ongoing challenges and controversies it faces.
The resignation of Deborah Gist amidst her ongoing dispute with Ryan Walters signals a time of uncertainty for the Tulsa school district. As the Oklahoma Board of Education prepares to evaluate the district’s accreditation, the appointment of a new superintendent will undoubtedly serve as a turning point in determining the future trajectory of the district.