Thursday, June 9, 2011

Inman Seeks AG Opinion On Ed Board's Action; DOE Attorney Says Vote Met Law Requirement

The Oklahoma State Department of Education's general counsel, Lisa Endres, issued the following statement today regarding a vote by the State Board of Education on May 9: "The statute on Board of Education meetings is clear. It requires a majority of a quorum for votes on actions, and that's exactly what happened on May 9. The board also ratified the May 9 vote at an additional monthly meeting on May 26 by approving the minutes from that meeting. The decision made by the Board on May 9 is clearly valid based on the statute and years of precedent from previous Board votes on other matters."

Scott Inman
House Democratic leader Scott Inman has asked Attorney General Scott Pruitt to render an official position regarding the validity of the Board of Education's action in granting control of the agency to Superintendent Janet Barresi.

In a statement, Inman said, "On May 9th the Board of Education held a meeting in which a motion was made to grant Superintendent Barresi the power to alone govern the State Department of Education. Much authority, such as the hiring and firing of all employees and control of the over $2 billion budget for the Department, would immediately be at Barresi’s discretion.

"However, when the motion was made, the vote was 3 in favor and 1 opposed. The Board is comprised of 7 members and therefore by law any official action by the Board must receive 4 votes."

Inman requested clarification of Oklahoma statutes 70 O.S. § 3-103, which states that every act of the State Board of Education must be approved by a majority of the membership of the Board.

Per this statute, Inman said, it would appear that although a quorum of the Board was present at the May 9th meeting, the motion to transfer these powers lacked the 4 votes necessary to pass and comply with state law.

“Regardless of political party, all of us who work in government for and on behalf of the people should have a sacred obligation to obey the law,” said Inman, D-Del City.

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