Democrats push for investigation of Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s firebrand schools superintendent

Oklahoma Democrats are calling for an impeachment probe of Ryan Walters, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, citing a variety of current points, together with bomb threats in opposition to a college district following one in all Walters’ provocative social media posts.

In an announcement Tuesday, state Home Democrats mentioned they’ve made a proper request to the GOP speaker to arrange a bipartisan committee to analyze whether or not there’s ample proof to question Walters. The Democratic caucus cited Walters’ “constant sample of inflammatory language aimed toward our public training lecturers, outright lies and focused assaults on native management.”

Walters, a Republican firebrand recognized for specializing in tradition struggle points, has ushered within the nation’s first non secular constitution college, promised to “put God again in colleges” and threatened to take over the state’s largest college district in Tulsa, a showdown that pushed out the native superintendent — all inside his first eight months in workplace.

Most not too long ago, Union Public Faculties, a district on the sting of Tulsa, mentioned it has obtained bomb threats on six consecutive college days. The threats started final week after Walters shared a viral video that drew important consideration to one of many district’s librarians on social media.

“Left and proper, individuals are asking us to rise up, arise and do one thing to sort things and calm this down,” state Rep. Melissa Provenzano, a Democrat and assistant minority chief, mentioned in an interview. Provenzano’s district contains Union Public Faculties.

Walters’ spokesperson referred to as the Home Democrats’ push for an impeachment investigation “shameful.”

“In looking for to take away a popularly elected constitutional officer, they signify a direct menace to our democracy,” Dan Isett, an Oklahoma Division of Schooling spokesperson, mentioned in an e mail.

Republicans maintain a supermajority within the Oklahoma Legislature, and none of them have voiced help for impeaching Walters.

“Impeachment will not be one thing that needs to be taken frivolously, and the decision by a gaggle of Home Democrats appears to be extra of a prepared, hearth, goal method,” Oklahoma Home Speaker Charles McCall mentioned in an announcement. Final week, McCall condemned the threats in opposition to Union Public Faculties and mentioned he’d prefer to see “political activism surrounding training eradicated,” and that “Oklahoma’s elected leaders shouldn’t be including gas to the fires of controversy.”

The threats started the identical day that Walters retweeted a put up from a day earlier on the conservative provocateur account Libs of TikTok, which featured a video of a librarian at Union Public Faculties. The video reveals the librarian strolling subsequent to a e-book shelf with the textual content “POV: lecturers in your state are dropping like flies however you might be nonetheless simply not fairly completed pushing your woke agenda on the public college.” That’s completely different from the caption that the librarian initially posted on her TikTok account, which Libs of TikTok eliminated: “My radical liberal agenda is educating youngsters to like books and be type — hbu??”

When Walters retweeted the Libs of TikTok put up to his practically 10,000 followers, he added: “Woke ideology is actual and I’m right here to cease it.”

The video unfold shortly on-line and has been seen a whole bunch of 1000’s of occasions on X, previously often called Twitter.

Union Public Faculties, a district that features a southeastern portion of Tulsa and adjoining suburbs, mentioned it has obtained seven rounds of nameless bomb threats focusing on particular colleges, its administrative workplaces, workers residence addresses and an area workplace of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. One of many threats, in keeping with a replica shared by the district, said, “You’ll cease pushing this woke ideology or we’ll bomb each college within the union district.”

The threats have been deemed not credible, in keeping with the Tulsa Police Division, which is investigating the case together with the Damaged Arrow Police Division and the FBI. Union Public Faculties mentioned it has elevated safety and swept the buildings every time a menace got here in, nevertheless it has not canceled courses.

John Federline, assistant superintendent of Union Public Faculties, mentioned final week that just about a 3rd of the district’s 15,000 college students have been both absent or picked up early by their mother and father after the threats. The librarian highlighted by Libs of TikTok and Walters is “tremendously upset,” Federline mentioned.

“She clearly mentioned that her radical agenda was educating youngsters to be type and to like books — that’s what she mentioned on her authentic put up and that’s one thing that we’d ask of all of our lecturers,” he mentioned.

Chaya Raichik, the California resident who runs Libs of TikTok, which has 2.4 million followers on X, declined to remark and as an alternative emailed an insult. Final yr, Boston Youngsters’s Hospital confronted a number of bomb threats after a sequence of posts by right-wing social media accounts, together with Libs of TikTok.

Walters has declined to touch upon his put up on X and his spokesperson declined Tuesday to touch upon the bomb threats. Final week, after the primary menace, the division advised the Fox 23 TV station in Tulsa, “The problem right here is the worker’s actions, that’s why Superintendent Walters commented on it.“

Provenzano mentioned Walters’ social media posts and the bomb threats have been the ultimate straw for Democrats.

State Sen. Kay Floyd, the highest Democrat within the Oklahoma Senate who represents Oklahoma Metropolis, mentioned she helps her Home colleagues’ request, citing the bomb threats to Tulsa-area public colleges.

“These threats are a direct results of reckless rhetoric and have to be addressed,” Floyd mentioned in an announcement.

Conservative teams within the state, together with the Oklahoma 2nd Modification Affiliation and the Tulsa chapter of Mothers for Liberty, mentioned they stand by Walters. Janice Danforth, chair of the Mothers for Liberty chapter, mentioned she thinks the requires an impeachment probe are “ridiculous and an try at mob rule.”