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State secretary of education demands former Norman High School teacher's certificate be revoked

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Norman High School

Norman High School on Nov. 1.

Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters asked the Oklahoma State Board of Education to revoke a former Norman High School teacher’s teaching certificate on Wednesday after she resigned over allegedly violating House Bill 1775.

Summer Boismier resigned on Aug. 23 after a parent complained that she violated HB 1775 when she posted a QR code to the Brooklyn Library Books Unbanned in her classroom. HB 1775 restricts Oklahoma public schools from teaching students that a person, because of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, either knowingly or unknowingly. 

Walters, who is also the Republican candidate for state superintendent for public instruction, released a statement Wednesday asking the Board of Education to revoke Boismier’s certificate immediately. 

“There is no place for a teacher with a liberal political agenda in the classroom,” Walters wrote. “Ms. Boismier's providing access to banned and pornographic material to students is unacceptable and we must ensure she doesn’t go to another district and do the same thing.” 

In the statement, Walters said Boismier’s actions led to her being “fired,” however, she resigned after being placed on administrative leave. 

In response to Boismier’s resignation, Norman Public Schools released a statement, saying the teacher was never “terminated, suspended or placed on administrative leave,” however, Boismier previously said she was placed on administrative leave following the complaint. 

“Like many educators the teacher has concerns regarding censorship and book removal by the Oklahoma state legislature,” the statement read. “Politics is impossible to escape. It is woven through history, literature and everyday life, but as educators, we have a duty to teach without expressing our own partisan opinions. It is our goal to teach students to think critically, not to tell them what to think.”

HB 1775 has previously led the State Board of Education to downgrade both Tulsa Public Schools’ and Mustang Public Schools’ accreditation status after the districts were found to be violating the law.

NPS and Wes Moody, the executive director of communications and public relations for NPS, said it is the responsibility of each individual teacher to review classroom materials and books to ensure they abide by Oklahoma law, including HB 1775.

“Classroom libraries enrich our schools and we want our classrooms to be places where literacy thrives,” the NPS statement said. 

NPS criticized HB 1775 and its potential consequences, saying the legislation has “been challenging,” citing the “vague and uncertain nature of its enforcement.” Walters said he urges State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister to act immediately to remove Boismier’s certificate and keep her out of Oklahoma public schools.

Karoline Leonard is a journalism junior and asst. news managing editor at the OU Daily. She previously served as summer news managing editor and news reporter. She is originally from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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