Ryan Walters Faces Another Public Meeting Thursday as Oklahomans Prepare to Demand Answers on Abuses of Power and Mismanagement of Funds

by Laurel Powell

Supt. Walters leads a weakened Oklahoma Department of Education heading into Thursday’s monthly Board of Education meeting

To questions about his department’s dysfunction, staff departures, and mishandling of grants, Walters can only muster: “There are two genders.”

OKLAHOMA CITY—As advocates, educators, students, and parents prepare for another contentious Board of Education meeting at the Oklahoma State Capitol complex on Thursday, Ryan Walters is leading a dwindling department with increasing resignations, questions on mismanagement of funds, and failing educational policies and a neglected focus Oklahoma’s youth.

As a reminder: Walters’s last state board meeting was an unmitigated disaster.

  • The night before the meeting, his staff used ties and electrical cords to lock the OSDE front doors in a desperate attempt to deter members of the public from waiting outside to get into the meeting.

  • Still, all ten speakers during the meeting used their time to call out Ryan Walters for his failure to protect the state’s LGBTQ+ students and keep Oklahoma schools safe.

  • It appeared as if the department didn’t have any lawyers left on staff at the meeting.

  • Walters refused to answer questions after the meeting from reporters, a break from precedent.

  • The following day, Walters pulled out of an event hosted by a conservative group at Oklahoma State University.

But things have only gotten worse for Walters since that time:

  • Friday brought more revelations as HRC released a new report, “Ryan Walters on X: A Platform for Hate, Ignorance, and Self-Indulgence.” A survey of his activity on X (formerly Twitter) showed more than 4 times in every 10 posts, he promotes his media appearances, including op-eds and interviews with right wing media - possibly even secured with the help of PR firms paid for by Oklahoma taxpayers. Many of the remainder of his posts are dedicated to attacking members of the LGBTQ+ community, denigrating teachers’ unions, or complaining about the U.S. Department of Education.

Will Walters finally address the many outstanding questions from Oklahomans on his mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, OSDE’s staff exodus, lost federal grant money, divisive rhetoric, and more during Thursday’s board meeting? Will he talk to reporters after the meeting, or once again run from their inquiries? We are not holding our breaths.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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