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Osage County school's superintendent suspended over state, federal sanctions

Osage County school's superintendent suspended over state, federal sanctions

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FAIRFAX — The Woodland school district’s school board has suspended the superintendent over new sanctions by federal and state education authorities.

Superintendent Todd Kimrey was accused last week of a “flagrant pattern of disregard” in not responding to a dozen contacts by officials at the U.S. Department of Education and 15 to 20 by Oklahoma State Department of Education administrators in recent years.

At a special meeting Tuesday evening, local school board members voted 4-0 to send Kimrey notice of his possible dismissal and his right to a due process hearing and 4-0 to suspend him immediately with pay, said Bryan Drummond, the board’s attorney.

Board member Gabe Graham was absent.

Woodland reportedly has the dubious distinction of being the only public school district of all 17,000-plus in the United States to ignore mandatory federal reporting requirements since 2015.

On Jan. 19, the U.S. Department of Education notified state education and local district leaders that Woodland had been placed on “high risk” status, which could result in the loss of its federal funding.

On Thursday, the state Board of Education voted unanimously to place Woodland’s state accreditation on probation, the lowest status a school district can have and continue operating. The move was in response to federal authorities’ request and for state education officials’ additional compliance concerns about Woodland’s federally funded child nutrition program.

Since 1968, local school data have been collected to help ensure that recipients of federal funding do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or disability. The reporting is a condition of receiving federal funds.

According to state education officials, the required information includes student demographics, preschool enrollment and disciplinary incidents. State education department employees fill in more than 60% of the federal reporting form for every school district, so local officials only need to complete the remainder.

On the rare occasion that federal or state authorities were able to make any contact with Kimrey, he reportedly cited a “lack of staff” as an excuse for not submitting the reports and once even questioned what authority the U.S. Department of Education had to require the data.

Woodland is located in Fairfax, an Osage County town about 65 miles northwest of Tulsa.

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Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye on Jan. 12 also talked about PPE supply and teacher vaccine distribution.


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Staff Writer

I'm a projects reporter, examining key education topics and other local issues. Since joining the Tulsa World in 1999, I have been a three-time winner of Oklahoma’s top award for investigative reporting by an individual. Phone: 918-581-8470

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