The superintendent of public schools in Normandy responded to community concerns about Bill 1775 and said the NPS had not banned the books in a Tuesday statement.
At Monday’s school board meeting, about six NPS parents and members of the Normandy community said student resources are limited in classrooms due to HB 1775, which prohibits schools from knowingly teaching or unknowingly that a person, because of their race or gender, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.
Those concerns were sparked when former NPS teacher Summer Boismier quit after a parent alleged she expressed contempt for Oklahoma lawmakers and posted a QR code in her Brooklyn-style classroom. Library Books Unbanned, which provides free e-books to titles that are restricted across the country.
“My daughter, who is an NPS student with two mothers, deserves access to books with stories and characters representative of her family,” NPS parent Angel Stuart-Worth said at the meeting. “My daughter, who is white, deserves the opportunity to find books in her school library to give her some insight into what racism is and how it is experienced by people unlike her. ”
NPS Superintendent Nick Migliorino wrote that despite the new guidelines, the NPS school district has still been responsible for ensuring students have the proper materials and a curriculum “aligned with standards.”
“Let me assure you that we have a wealth of books available to our students in our schools,” Migliorino wrote. “We believe it is extremely important to have a diverse and broad literature available to our students. As we said, it is our job to teach students to think critically. As such, we provide opportunities for students to use and experience a variety of appropriate resources, reflect on a wide range of perspectives, and deepen their thinking.
Migliorino wrote in the message to families and NPS staff that the school board reviewed the complaints against Boismier and “at no time” fired, suspended or placed Boismier on administrative leave. Additionally, the board concluded “there were no violations” of HB 1775 or the state Department of Education rules, and that there were no issues with the books on the shelves. from the teacher or in the QR code.
“As we have repeatedly said – and despite incorrect information on social media and in the news – Norman Public Schools has not banned any books,” Migliorino wrote in the statement. “We also know and believe that parents and guardians are ultimately responsible for their child. Public schools in Normandy will always respect the wishes of families regarding their child’s education and access.
Boismier, who was present at the meeting, said she viewed the council’s previous silence as a failure.
“I don’t think dancing around the issue is – I don’t think it’s possible anymore,” Boismier said after the meeting. “Silence, euphemisms and attempts to smooth things over are a tacit acceptance of the status quo. Say something. Do something. You won’t keep the teachers. You won’t. You won’t keep teachers if you continue to display cowardly behavior.
In response to the situation, Migliorino wrote that he and the district were “saddened and hurt” by the comments and “negative assumptions” made over the past few weeks, noting that the incident had “exploded” beyond recognition. Initial complaint about Boismier’s QR code made by an NPS parent on August 19.
Boismier also faced fears that his teaching license could be stripped after Ryan Walters, the governor’s education secretary and Oklahoma state superintendent candidate, asked the Board of Education of the State of Oklahoma to revoke Boismier’s teaching certification. In response to this, Migliorino wrote that the school board would “never want an educator to live in fear of losing their hard-earned certifications and licenses.”
“We all know the challenges facing public education.” Migliorino wrote. “We all know the divisive nature of this debate in our state politics. However, Norman Public Schools remains steadfastly focused on delivering the best possible education to our students…by the best teachers in the state.