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Tulsa charter school application in limbo

The Tulsa Public Schools administration building [John Clanton/Tulsa World]
The Tulsa Public Schools administration building [John Clanton/Tulsa World]

The Oklahoma State Board of Education agreed Thursday to send a denied charter school application back to Tulsa Public Schools for reconsideration.

TPS administrators have twice denied the creation of Harlow Creek charter school in northwest Tulsa.

However, the Tulsa School Board hasn't voted nor hosted a public hearing on the potential charter school, as the district administration denied the application without bringing it before its board. Harlow Creek, a neighborhood in northwest Tulsa, brought an appeal to the state board of education during its meeting Thursday afternoon.

The state board of education can't approve or deny the charter application until Tulsa's school board takes official action on it, said Brad Clark, Oklahoma State Department of Education general counsel. If the Tulsa School Board voted against creating Harlow Creek charter school, the state board could vote to authorize the charter.

The state board unanimously voted to send the Harlow Creek application back to the Tulsa school district with strong encourgement that the Tulsa School Board take action on the application within 30 days of receiving it.

Attorney Bill Hickman, who represents Harlow Creek, said the delays in the application process are "unfair" to his clients. Harlow Creek first applied to establish the charter school in March, with denials coming in May and August.

State board member Kurt Bollenbach urged the Tulsa board to host a hearing and vote on the application.

"There are more people who would be potentially harmed by a lack of a public hearing," Bollenbach said. "It's not simply Mr. Hickman's clients. It's also Tulsa Public Schools and also the students in northwest Tulsa who could be impacted by this decision. They need to have an voice their support or opposition."

Nuria Martinez-Keel

Nuria Martinez-Keel joined The Oklahoman in 2019. She found a home at the newspaper while interning in summer 2016 and 2017. Nuria returned to The Oklahoman for a third time after working a year and a half at the Sedalia Democrat in Sedalia,... Read more ›