In The Know: Oklahoma Supreme Court acknowledges rights of same-sex parents

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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Oklahoma Supreme Court hands down landmark ruling on same-sex parenting: The decision acknowledged the rights of a non-biological parent in a same-sex relationship who has acted as a parent. The state’s high court ruled that an Oklahoma County judge improperly dismissed the case of Oklahoma City resident Charlene Ramey, who was in a same-sex relationship with Kimberly Sutton. The couple agreed to have a child, born by Sutton with a donor. When the couple separated after almost 10 years of co-parenting, Sutton denied Ramey’s status as a parent and sought to end all interaction between Ramey and the child [Tulsa World].

DHS shelter closes after last child finds foster home: “Michael” had been the only child in the Oklahoma City shelter for the past seven weeks. The 7-year-old is autistic and needed a special foster family to come forward. This time last year, an average of 288 kids were in Oklahoma shelters, state-run and privately-run shelters combined, on any given day. DHS Director Ed Lake said the daily average has dropped to 162 thanks to more foster families and better decision-making in the field on whether to remove a child from a home [News9].

Schools search for answers to curb student discipline: In Oklahoma, a review of federal and local discipline data shows minority and special education students are disproportionately suspended, expelled or referred to police as early as elementary school. Teri Bell, executive director of student support services at Oklahoma City Public Schools, said districts need to change how they discipline students because a focus on suspensions and expulsions is not working. Resistance is coming from some teachers and teacher groups, who are skeptical that districts will adhere to policies and thus jeopardize teachers’ safety and the learning environment [Oklahoma Watch].

Coalition announces opposition to ‘Right to Farm’ state question: The Oklahoma Stewardship Council is urging voters to reject State Question 777, called the “Right to Farm” by supporters and “Right to Harm” by critics. Former state attorney general Drew Edmondson is chairman of group. Critics of the measure said its passage could lead to increased pollution of air and water and poor treatment of animals [Tulsa World]. The groups argues that if the ballot question passes a statewide vote, cockfighting and puppy mill operations could be freed from regulation [Journal Record].

Access to justice is difficult in state: A number of issues were identified that restrict people’s access to the legal system according to the Access to Justice Committee. The state ranks 50th in access to justice, but the committee wants to change that dismal ranking. It was the topic at the Oklahoma Bar Association President’s Breakfast during the annual meeting [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma clinics achieve health care performance savings: Oklahoma was the only participant to achieve net savings in year two of the CMS Innovation Center’s Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began its four-year CPC Initiative in 2013 to see if real cost savings resulted from using the medical home model of enhanced, coordinated services. A group of 64 physician clinics across northeastern Oklahoma were banded together to form one of seven national participants in the program [Journal Record].

New report on early childhood education highlights Oklahoma’s access to pre-k: A new report from the Southern Regional Education Board urging improvements to early-childhood programs in states across the South highlights Oklahoma’s access to pre-kindergarten education. The board’s Early Childhood Commission, which includes Oklahoma State Rep. Ann Coody and Oklahoma Sen. John Ford, spent portions of 2014 and 2015 with national experts studying early-childhood issues and current knowledge about children’s brain development [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“This crisis has been coming for a long time. Forget about replacing them with someone of the same quality. I’m just worried about replacing them. Period.”

-David Pennington, superintendent of Ponca City public schools, who is facing a severe shortage of special education teachers as many of his current teachers are nearing retirement (Source).

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma minimum wage earners who are women (2014).

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Behind The Shortage Of Special Ed Teachers: Long Hours, Crushing Paperwork: The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, requires that every student have what’s known as an IEP — Individualized Education Program. And almost always, those IEPs spell out that students — either some of the time or all of the time — must be taught by a teacher fully certified in special education. Yet around the country, that’s exactly the category of teacher that’s most in demand, as many states and districts are reporting severe shortages [NPR].

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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