In The Know: Oklahoma approves first publicly funded Catholic school in US | Censures of Oklahoma State Reps. will continue next year | Capitol Update | More

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

HB 2259 will revolutionize processing and collecting of court financial obligations owed by defendants (Capitol Update): Despite repeated efforts over the past few years, not a lot was accomplished during this last session toward the repeal of various costs of the criminal legal system that are imposed on defendants in criminal cases. Costs imposed include various state judicial and executive branch and county fees including everything from the county law library fee to the automated fingerprint information system fee for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma approves first publicly funded Catholic school in US: An Oklahoma school board on Monday approved the Catholic Church’s application to create the first taxpayer-funded religious charter school in the U.S. Opponents of the school have vowed a legal challenge which promises to be a long court battle testing the U.S. Constitution’s concept of separation of church and state. [Reuters]

  • After last-minute board member switch, SVCSB approves virtual Catholic charter school [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma approves first US taxpayer-funded religious charter school [BBC]
  • Oklahoma Board Approves First Religious Charter School [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Reactions swift to Oklahoma’s sponsorship of nation’s first religious charter school [Tulsa World]
  • Catholic charter school proposal greenlighted for Oklahoma state sanctioning, taxpayer funding [Tulsa World]
  • Nation’s first Catholic charter school approved in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma Charter School Board approves application for nation’s first publicly funded religious school [KGOU]

State Government News

Censures of Oklahoma Reps. Dean Davis, Mauree Turner to continue next year: Two state representatives who were formally reprimanded by their colleagues this year will remain censured through the 2024 legislative session. Because Oklahoma’s legislative cycles span two years, the censures of Reps. Dean Davis, R-Broken Arrow, and Mauree Turner, D-Oklahoma City, will continue into next year. [Tulsa World]

New Oklahoma law makes discriminatory real estate covenants ‘null and void’: Owning or leasing an older property can reveal a disturbing history. A new law in Oklahoma targets discriminatory language in real estate covenants. House Bill 2288, by Republicans Rep. John Pfeiffer and Sen. Brent Howard, was signed by the governor in May. It would make language from real estate contracts that are discriminatory “null and void.” A person could also remove the covenant language with a simple request to a county clerk. [KOSU]

  • New law lets Oklahoma property owners repudiate racist language in land records [NonDoc]

Can Gov. Kevin Stitt send state National Guard to the border? What to know about the plans: Joining several other Republican governors, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced last week he would send Oklahoma National Guard troops to the U.S-Mexico border to “address the federal government’s utter failure to secure our southern border.” [The Oklahoman]

Lawmakers fund parent representation program: Lawmakers agreed this session to fund the first year of a statewide program to provide better legal representation for children and parents in the child welfare system. The state will spend $4.6 million to create the Family Representation and Advocacy Program, housed under the Administrative Office of the Courts, to pay and train attorneys to work with parents and kids, manage caseloads and provide support during court cases. The program will also coordinate with social workers and other staff to help families. [The Frontier

Federal Government News

Oklahoma is getting more than $1M in NEA grant money. Find out which arts groups benefit: From an exhibit chronicling the career of a prominent Native American artist to a play paying homage to a pioneering Black aviator, four Oklahoma arts organizations have grand plans for grants they’re getting from the National Endowment for the Arts. [The Oklahoman]

Tribal Nations News

Hoskin poised for new term as leader of Cherokee Nation: The Cherokee Nation Election Commission on Monday certified the election of Chuck Hoskin Jr. to serve a new term as principal chief of the nation. Hoskin and incumbent Deputy Chief Bryan Warner garnered more than 62% of ballots cast to win new four-year terms. [Journal Record]

Federal Indian boarding schools still exist, but what’s inside may be surprising: On a hot afternoon last summer, Riverside Indian School drew a crowd from all over Oklahoma. Elders and family members drove hours to pile into the residential school’s gymnasium. They filled the space with rows of chairs and stuffed the bleachers up to the rafters, but when the meeting was called to order, everyone was silent. [KOSU]

Health News

Hospital in rural western Oklahoma could reopen sooner than originally thought: Clinton residents may not have to wait as long as originally anticipated for their hospital to reopen. The hospital might be able to open without upgrades to the facility. Since the beginning of the year, the city of Clinton has been without a hospital after the company managing it pulled out and canceled state and federal licenses to operate the facility. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

There’s a rift between Oklahoma’s district attorneys and the new AG. It’s getting worse: Oklahoma’s district attorneys on Monday joined a murder victim’s family in criticizing the new attorney general over his stance on death row inmate Richard Glossip. In a filing at the U.S. Supreme Court, the family described Attorney General Gentner Drummond as Glossip’s “comrade-in-arms.” [The Oklahoman]

Joe Allbaugh to rejoin Oklahoma County jail trust, replaces Adam Luck: A former member of the Oklahoma County jail trust will soon rejoin its board. Joe Allbaugh, who resigned his seat on the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority last year to seek elected office in Kay County, was unanimously appointed to fill a vacant spot by county commissioners last week. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

350 classroom openings at Tulsa, Union, Broken Arrow: Oklahoma is 4,000 short on teachers: Although the 2023-2024 school year does not start for at least two months, area school districts are already hustling to fill staffing vacancies for the coming school year. “We’ve always been having to hustle,” Union Public Schools Executive Director of Human Resources Jay Loegering said. “If you take the baseline that we’re 4,000 teachers short in Oklahoma based on the number of emergency certifications, everyone is fighting for a pool that’s not there.” [Tulsa World]

Structural issues cause Oklahoma City elementary school to close: Structural issues at a south-side elementary school have prompted Oklahoma City Public Schools to shut it down three years sooner than expected. The district Board of Education voted to permanently close Shidler Elementary, 1415 S Byers, in a 6-0 vote Monday evening. [The Oklahoman]

The ThunderFellows program changes lives, like mine: The ThunderFellows program, founded by Cedric Ikpo, Ricky Graham, and LaKena Whitley, is a 30-week after-school program located in Greenwood District. The program aims to empower Black youth through mentorship, STEM training, and long-lasting opportunities. [The Black Wall Street Times]

General News

Beyond Apology discussions on possible reparations for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre continue: It won’t be long before Tulsans learn more about what their neighbors think of providing reparations and repair for those harmed by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The last of four scheduled community-led discussions on the subject is scheduled for 5 p.m. June 13 at the Greenwood Cultural Center, 322 N. Greenwood Ave. [Tulsa World]

Oil-laced mud spills into northern Oklahoma creek after heavy rainfall: Cleanup is underway after about 42,000 gallons of mud containing crude oil and other drilling waste spilled out of a pit and into a northern Oklahoma creek. [KOSU]

A train derailed in this small Oklahoma town, an emergency it has prepared for: City officials say it could have been worse after a train derailed in this small town. The Union Pacific rail line runs through the east side of town, where about 4,400 people live. On Sunday, a series of small brush fires were sparked along the route by the train’s axel as it moved south into Stephens County, said City Administrator Jason McPherson. The axel came off just north of Memorial Drive in Marlow, where the train derailed. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa school board approves preliminary ’23-’24 budget [Tulsa World]
  • New Edmond council members say they’re ready for challenges [Journal Record]
  • Holt named to be president of US Conference of Mayors in 2025-26 [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“The approval of any publicly funded religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers. It’s extremely disappointing that board members violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with our tax dollars. In doing so, these members have exposed themselves and the State to potential legal action that could be costly.” 

– Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond in a response statement to the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board’s decision on Monday to approve the first religious charter school in the state. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Share of Oklahoma children living in low-income households where more than 30 percent of the monthly income was spent on rent, mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, and/or related expenses. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

Subsidized Housing Improves Adulthood Outcomes for Teenage Recipients: Teenagers that spent more time living in public housing or in households receiving housing choice vouchers experience higher earnings and a lower risk of incarceration in adulthood relative to similar teenagers who spent more time in unsubsidized housing. [Housing Matters]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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