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Make Dr. Ebony Johnson Permanent TPS Superintendent

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A letter signed by hundreds of community members and local leaders urges the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education to make Dr. Ebony Johnson the TPS district’s permanent superintendent.

“We, the undersigned, write to you with shared concern and a united voice as faith leaders,
legislators, community advocates and concerned Tulsans regarding the critical decision to
appoint Dr. Ebony Johnson, Ed.D, permanent school superintendent for Tulsa Public Schools, thestate’s largest school district in Oklahoma, serving nearly 34,000 students at 77 schools,” the letter states.

The letter comes just days after Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum weighed in, asking the Board to make Dr. Johnson permanent superintendent to avoid a state takeover.

Black woman asked to clean house without the keys

Currently serving as interim TPS Superintendent, Dr. Johnson stepped into the role less than 70 days ago after replacing longtime superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist.

Dr. Gist was pushed out of her position amid threats from Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters, a Republican who has made attacking DEI programs and diverse school districts the cornerstone of his leadership.

Like many Black women in the history of America, Dr. Johnson stepped into the role with demands of fixing the district’s reading and math scores and chronic absentee rates under what many consider a nearly impossible timeline.

Board members like Dr. Jennettie Marshall expressed support for Dr. Johnson during a tension-filled August 24 board meeting. Students, teachers and parents rallied in support of TPS as Walters threatened to take over the state similar to Texas’s annexation of Houston’s school district. The Board ultimately voted to downgrade TPS but left local control intact.

Meanwhile, Walters demands continuous weekly and monthly progress reports as he continues to keep the state’s most racially diverse district in his crosshairs.

Read the full letter below:

Local leaders want Dr. Ebony Johnson as permanent TPS superintendent

Since then, however, support for making Dr. Johnson permanent TPS superintendent has grown.

“Dr. Johnson’s appointment as permanent superintendent is not only logical but necessary to help achieve the outcomes and expectations set forth by this body, the State Department of Education, the State Superintendent, and families,” the letter states.

Notably, the letter highlights the fact that with no current permanent superintendent, the district can’t hire and fill vacancies. The letter states that making Dr. Johnson’s role permanent would allow for a smooth transition into achieving the goals TPS must undertake.

Some board members have considered conducting a nationwide search for a TPS superintendent. Yet ahead of Monday’s next Tulsa Public Schools Board meeting, the letter makes clear where hundreds in the community stand.

“During her tenure as interim superintendent, we have closely observed her performance as faith leaders, legislators, concerned members of the community, and families of Tulsa Public Schools students. Dr. Johnson has demonstrated the competence, commitment, and, most importantly, faith in our students and families to turn our schools around,” the letter states.

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