Oklahoma State Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa) today expressed concern over what he called a pattern of obstruction by the State Board of Education in recent months. Bingman’s comments came after the State Board of Education today blocked the hiring of key personnel at the Department of Education by new State Superintendent Janet Barresi.
“The individuals Superintendent Barresi has chosen to be her senior staff are of the highest caliber, and they are more than qualified for their positions,” said Bingman. “The Board’s actions today stoop to the level of rank partisanship at a time when our state’s education system can least afford these kinds of delays and games.”
“I’m very troubled today’s actions are the culmination of a pattern of obstruction by the board, and I’m closely examining legislative remedies,” continued Bingman. “This unelected group of political appointees seems to be attempting to thwart the will of the people, ignoring the clear mandate for reform and change that brought Superintendent Barresi to office.”
During today’s meeting, members of the State Board of Education refused to approve the hiring of Jennifer Carter as chief of staff, who holds a Juris Doctorate. Under state law, Bingman noted higher education institutions accord a Juris Doctorate degree equal recognition to other doctorate degrees.
“Certainly Oklahoma’s colleges and universities have recognized the importance of a Juris Doctorate degree,” said Bingman.
The actions of the board members today are hindering the ability of the State Department of Education to function efficiently and effectively according to the Pro Tem. During today’s meeting, members of the State Board of Education refused to approve the hiring of Jennifer Carter as chief of staff, Damon Gardenhire as Communications Director, and Jill Geiger as Director of Finance.