Owasso school board to reconsider defiance of ‘Lindsey’s Law’

 Writing for Neighbor Newspapers, including the Broken Arrow Ledger,
Danielle Parker and Nour Habib report the Owasso Board of Education has
scheduled a special meeting for Thursday (December 16) at 5 p.m.

According to a
story update: “The agenda calls the board to discuss and vote on whether
to rescind the board’s resolution on House Bill 3393. The meeting will
be held at the Dale C. Johnson Education Service Center, 1501 North Ash,
in Owasso. There is no time slotted for public comment on the agenda

In a previous story, they reported that Owasso attorney Gordon Cummings
is seeking a Writ of Ouster for members of the local board of education
who have defied implementation of House Bill 3393, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships Program Act, also known as Lindsey’s Law.

In an October 26 letter to Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Cummings
characterized as “willful misconduct” the decision to impede
implementation of the law benefiting special needs children.

In that letter, Cummings said, “Removal from office and appointment of
new board members is the best solution since it punishes lawbreakers,
not innocent students.” Cumming continued, “They are setting themselves
up as a mini-supreme court. When you feel a law is unconstitutional, you
challenge it in court or go the legislature. But until the law is
overturned, it should be followed.”

Cummings argued, “The fair way to resolve this is between equal
government forces in court, not the poor parents against a board with so
many resources.” According to the Ledger, Cummings said he has no
financial interest in the case, but acted as a concerned citizen: “It
has been nearly 60 days, and no one has done anything, because no one
knows what to do. The law must be obeyed.”

A writ can proceed from local petitioning or action by the attorney
general, according to Cummings’ interpretation of a Supreme Court case
from 1927. He said: “This is not a crime, but misconduct. No one wants
to go to jail in this case, but by intentionally voting to disobey the
law, they should be removed from their positions. An elected official
has refused to do what his/her duty is, and that is, obey the law. It’s
pretty clear cut.”

Defiance of the law has drawn massive criticism from a bipartisan group of public officials.

The controversial law firm of Rosenstein Fist Ringold has
advised districts not to implement the law, even though the measure
gained bipartisan legislative support and was vetted before enactment by
Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett and Governor Brad

(In related news, the Ledger has scrutinized increased legal fees paid to the firm by several Tulsa-area school districts.)

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett told CapitolBeatOK in
October she believed school board member who defied implementation of
the law had placed themselves “in violation of their oaths of office.” Garrett, a Democrat, did not seek reelection this year and is leaving office after 20 years of service.

Incoming Speaker of the House Kris Steele of Shawnee, a Republican, and state Rep. Jabar Shumate, a Democrat, have decried efforts to impede the law’s implementation.

The measure passed with a bipartisan effort led by state Rep. Jason Nelson of Oklahoma City and state Sen. Patrick Anderson of Enid, both Republicans, with co-sponsorship from Shumate and state Rep. Anastasia Pittman, an Oklahoma City Democrat.

The measure was signed into law early this summer by Governor Brad Henry