The Norman Public Schools superintendent responded to community concerns regarding House Bill 1775 and said NPS has not banned books in a Tuesday statement.
During the Monday school board meeting, roughly six NPS parents and Norman community members said student resources are restricted in classrooms due to HB 1775, which bans schools from knowingly or unknowingly teaching that a person, because of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.
These concerns were sparked when former NPS teacher Summer Boismier resigned after a parent alleged she expressed her disdain for Oklahoma legislators and posted a QR code in her classroom to the Brooklyn Library Books Unbanned, which provides free e-books to titles that are restricted across the country.
“My daughter, who is an NPS student with two moms, deserves to have access to books with stories and characters that are representative of her family,” NPS parent Angel Stuart-Worth said in the meeting. “My daughter, who is white, deserves the opportunity to find books in her school library to give her insight into what racism is and how it's experienced by people who do not look like her.”
NPS Superintendent Nick Migliorino wrote that, despite the new guidance, the NPS school district has always been responsible for ensuring students have appropriate materials and a “standards-aligned” curriculum.
“Let me assure you, we have a wealth of books available to our students in our schools,” Migliorino wrote. “We believe having a diverse and wide range of literature available to our students is incredibly important. As we’ve stated, it is our job to teach students to think critically. As such, we provide opportunities for students to use and discover a variety of appropriate resources, think through a wide range of perspectives and deepen their thinking.”
Migliorino wrote in the message to NPS families and staff that the school board reviewed the complaints against Boismier and “at no point” terminated, suspended or placed Boismier on administrative leave. Additionally, the board found “there was no violation” of HB 1775 or State Department of Education rules, and there was no issue with any books on the teacher’s shelves or in the QR code.
“As we have stated many times — and despite incorrect information on social media and in the news — Norman Public Schools has not banned any books,” Migliorino wrote in the statement. “We also know and believe that parents and guardians are ultimately responsible for their child. Norman Public Schools will always respect a families’ wishes with regard to their child’s education and access.”
Boismier, who was present at the meeting, said she saw the board’s previous silence as a failure.
“I don't think dancing around the issue is — I don't think that's possible anymore,” Boismier said after the meeting. “Silence and euphemisms and attempts to smooth things over is a tacit acceptance of the status quo. Say something. Do something. You will not keep teachers. You won't. You won't keep teachers if you continue to display cowardly behavior.”
In response to the situation, Migliorino wrote he and the district are “saddened and hurt” by comments and the “negative assumptions” made over the past few weeks, noting the incident has “exploded” beyond the initial complaint about Boismier’s QR code made by an NPS parent on Aug. 19.
Boismier has also faced the concern that her teaching license will be taken away after Ryan Walters, the governor’s education secretary and Oklahoma’s state superintendent candidate, asked the Oklahoma State Board of Education to revoke Boismier’s teaching certification. In response to this, Migliorino wrote the school board “would never want any educator to live in fear of losing their hard-earned certifications and licensures.”
“We all know the challenges facing public education,” Migliorino wrote. “We all know the divisive nature of this debate in our state politics. However, Norman Public Schools remains steadfast in its focus on delivering the very best possible education to our students … from the very best teachers in the state.”