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Education Board Controversy Continues


Ford and former Superintendent Janet Barresi

Ford and former Superintendent Janet Barresi

The controversy over Amy Ford’s decision to withdraw her nomination to the State Sch0ol Board continues.




Amy Ford Withdraws School Board Nomination

fordAfter Education Board member Bill Price received a split confirmation vote in the Senate education committee, board member Amy Ford has withdrawn her nomination.

Both Price and Ford, longtime Republican donors, were allies of former Superintendent Janet Barresi and had reportedly been at odds with new Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

Here’s the Tulsa World’s story: http://www.tulsaworld.com/homepage3/state-board-of-education-member-out-after-public-spat-with/article_6baec763-56f7-5c39-9fa9-72c02455db5a.html

Teacher Walkout Marks Tulsa Superintendent Hiring

Barresi and Gist listed among Chiefs for Change

Barresi and Gist listed among Chiefs for Change

Tulsa Public Schools has hired a controversial superintendent who headed Rhode Island schools, and like former Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi, was one of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change.

After a contentious Tulsa School board meeting, three dozen teachers and parents protesting the hiring walked out of the meeting.

As the controversy unfolded, a former Barresi aide took to social media to
defend the decision.

Deborah Gist comes from Rhode Island, where she was a Democrat-appointed state superintendent and a strong advocate for Common Core, the controversial program now closely linked to the Obama Administration. In a survey, 85% of Rhode Island teachers wanted Gist fired.

Former Barresi spokesman Damon Gardenhire writes on Facebook the following: “It was bizarre to watch some unhinged people (bloggers demanding “Don’t hire Gist,” picketers with absurd “Reboot and Reconsider” signs, people staging silly stunts like walking out of meetings) attack Deborah Gist before she’s even been hired or even set foot in Tulsa to start her job. This crowd of bullies looks increasingly illogical and intolerant – essentially, they are the anti-reform party with one answer to everything: ‘No.’ But that’s education politics.”

See the comprehensive Tulsa World story here:

Hofmeister Gains Standards Committee Seat

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister wants a standards committee created by the Legislature to be subject to the open meetings law, she told the State Board of Education today.
Sources say an ally of former Superintendent Janet Barresi, Amy Ford, is chairwoman of the committee. Hofmeister, however, managed to get herself appointed to  the committee as well in a move approved by the board.
There are three state board members on the standards committee, and board member Bill Price stepped down so that Hofmeister could replace him.
Had she tried to attend, there would have been four state board members present and constituted a violation of the meetings act.

See the related story: http://mccarvillereport.com/archives/26387

Barresi Spent $1.3 Million

Former Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi spent $1.3 million on her losing reelection campaign: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/2014_elections/janet-barresi-tops-list-of-political-donors-in-oklahoma/article_40afba5f-9bef-51c8-9409-a6479fc6d2c5.html

Hofmeister has fired two more key members of Janet Barresi’s leadership team

The Oklahoman reports, “New state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has fired two more key members of Janet Barresi’s leadership team, bringing to six the number of state Education Department executives and staff she has terminated since taking office Jan. 12.

A spokesman for Hofmeister on Tuesday confirmed the departure of Lisa Chandler, director of assessments, and Jeff Downs, executive director of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Also terminated was Liz Young, Barresi’s executive assistant, according to spokesman Phil Bacharach. Hofmeister has declined to comment on the personnel moves. It is also unknown how Hofmeister plans to fill the vacancies.

Barresi Defends Record

Former Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi is defending herself via social media after several news outlets published stories about her final days in office, and after an editorial critical of her: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/janet-barresi-defends-record-as-fiscal-conservative-amid-reported-hiring/article_ab65e30c-6513-5221-92c1-d4d427d8abbb.html

Editorial: Barresi’s A Is For Arrogance

By: Journal Record Staff 

journal-record-logoWhat’s lawful and what’s right are not always the same.

That truth was apparent Monday when the Tulsa World reported that outgoing Superintendent of Schools Janet Barresi made 11th-hour personnel changes. Newly sworn schools chief Joy Hofmeister will have to live with those, and Oklahoma taxpayers will have to live with the $653,000 added to the state’s payroll. Barresi hired five and promoted three in her last week on the job.

Barresi’s attitude was laid bare in the opening few words of her written response to the World, which began, “It is my right as superintendent of public instruction …” But having the right doesn’t make it right.

Barresi was trounced in her re-election bid, becoming the rare incumbent to not merely lose in a primary election, but to finish third with just 21 percent of the vote. It is hard to recall any elected official who has been fired so resolutely by the voters. Carroll Fisher, Jack Walton and David Hall each likely stood a better chance of winning an election than Barresi, who alienated school administrators, teachers and parents alike in just one term. That’s quite a feat considering her predecessor, Sandy Garrett, managed to keep the rarely contentious job for 20 years, eventually retiring in 2010.

Barresi knew in June she was out of the job. She knew Oklahomans wanted someone else – perhaps anyone else – to take the reins of public education. The right thing to do was to start a smooth transition to a new administration. There was plenty of time.

Instead, Barresi in September created the position of assistant state superintendent of accreditation and compliance and hired a career law enforcement officer, Larry Birney, to fill the unadvertised job. Birney happens to be married to Barresi’s general counsel, Kim Richey. We are also reminded that Barresi started her term with three controversial hires who had supervisory duties over state employees, although they were being paid by a private nonprofit organization.

That astonishing level of arrogance comes as no surprise to those who tried to deal with Barresi when she was overseeing the charter high school she launched, Harding Charter Prep, where bullying tactics over a sublease led to a legal battle with the school’s co-tenant, Harding Fine Arts Academy.

All of which, surely, was her right.

On Jan. 2, Oklahoma’s education system was ranked fourth-worst in the nation.

An Arabian proverb applies: Arrogance diminishes wisdom.

Read more: http://journalrecord.com/2015/01/12/editorial-barresis-a-is-for-arrogance-opinion/#ixzz3OqjtfZAx

Barresi Consultant Says DOE Hall Used For Student Art, Blasts Critics


As promised during her campaign, Schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has rehung the Education of Fame portraits in the main hallways of the Department of Education. They had been moved to an interior hall.

But Janet Barresi’s consultant and former top aide, Jennifer Carter, said the main hallway was used to display student art during her tenure and there was nothing sinister about moving the photos during her tenure. The photos apparently were moved back to the main hallways just prior to Hofmeister’s taking of the oath on Monday at noon.

The portraits of public educators were removed from the hallways to display the student art, Carter said.

Carter also argued that negative stories about Barresi in recent days reflect a pattern of attacks on her.

“Just a bullcrap complaint from the Ed blob. Again, they want more recognition for themselves rather than the kids, which has always been Janet’s focus.”

She said The McCarville Report and others are “piling on” Barresi, who got less than 22 percent of the vote in her bid to retain office.

Barresi Makes New Hires, Promotes Others In Closing Days


In this file photo, Janet Barresi talks about her tenure as Oklahoma state superintendent of instruction. She lost the Republican primary to Joy Hofmeister, who will replace her on Monday. STEVE GOOCH/The Oklahoman

Andrew Eger
Tulsa World

State Superintendent Janet Barresi has been busy hiring and promoting employees from within the Oklahoma State Department of Education in her final days and weeks in office.

All told, her new hires total about $653,000 in base salary costs, and the salary increases that accompanied promotions, not counting one executive’s unknown bump in pay, total $62,000.

On Monday alone, five new employees with salaries totaling $290,500 were hired. Among them is the executive director of the new Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, with a salary of $90,000.

On Wednesday, Michele Sprague was promoted to executive director of literacy and Kayla Hindman was promoted to director of early childhood education and elementary English language arts. Both received $5,000 raises.

On Friday, Todd Loftin was promoted to assistant state superintendent for special education services with a salary of $80,000, but officials were unsure how much of a raise that salary amount represented because the decision came so late in the day.

Asked for an accounting of all recent promotions, shifts and new hires, Phil Bacharach, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, responded with a report that shows there have been 12 other internal transfers — including six promotions — and 13 new hires since the beginning of November.

Joy Hofmeister, who defeated Barresi in the primary and Democrat John Cox in the general election, is to be sworn in Monday.

Asked to comment on the hirings and inter-departmental

musical chairs, Hofmeister called the situation “disappointing.”

“Instability in any state agency is a hallmark of failed leadership. Future staff decisions will be made with careful consideration and respect for all involved,” she said.

“I look forward to joining the State Department of Education next week. I know there are hardworking people in the department and I look forward to getting to know them better. Plans are underway to conduct a formal capacity review of the agency to ensure we have the right people in the right places to best serve our state.

“My focus remains the schoolchildren of Oklahoma. Monday marks a new day for education.”

Barresi, who came in third place out of the three candidates in June’s Republican primary election, drew criticism and calls for her immediate resignation in late September when she created a new position and hired the husband of her general counsel, Kim Richey, to fill it.

The brand-new position of assistant state superintendent of accreditation and compliance has a base salary of $90,000. Barresi hired Larry Birney, a career law enforcement official who made headlines statewide when he resigned as executive director of the Council of Law Enforcement Education and Training, or CLEET, in Ada in 2011 after three years there. The resignation came after a formal panel was formed to investigate his conduct.

As a result, several lawmakers have pledged upcoming legislation to prevent outgoing state officials and lawmakers from making nonessential hires or creating new positions in the future.

On Friday evening, Barresi defended her actions in a written statement to the Tulsa World.

“It is my right as superintendent of public instruction to make personnel decisions, and the literacy position is critical for this state.

“I can tell you Michelle Sprague has been there from the beginning of (the Reading Sufficiency Act). She has vast understanding of every component of it, and her breadth and depth of knowledge on the subject of reading instruction is, I believe, without peer. There is no one in this state who knows as much about RSA and how to implement it,” Barresi said.

“Similarly, I have every confidence Todd Loftin will be tremendous in his new role. He has the confidence of educators, has proven himself a strong leader and has been excellent in his work with a multi-state collaborative to help profoundly disabled students.”


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