Oklahoma Secretary of Education Resigns Over Leadership and Fiscal Transparency Concerns

Katherine Curry, Oklahoma's Secretary of Education Resigns Over Leadership and Fiscal Transparency Concerns | Future Education Magazine


In a recent turn of events, the former Oklahoma Secretary of Education, Katherine Curry, has revealed that she resigned from her position after just three months due to concerns regarding a lack of leadership and fiscal transparency within the state’s education system. Curry’s departure has raised questions about the state’s commitment to educational oversight. Katherine Curry was appointed as the state’s Secretary of Education by Governor Kevin Stitt in April, with the hope of improving various aspects of education in Oklahoma. She approved expenses exceeding $25,000 from the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE).

Governor Stitt expressed optimism about Curry’s appointment, stating, “Katherine brings a wealth of experience to oversee the many different areas of education across the state, including higher education and career tech. I look forward to her leadership and service as we work towards making Oklahoma a Top Ten state in education.” Representative Mark McBride (R-Moore) had limited interactions with Katherine Curry but found her to be professional. He noted that they did not always see eye to eye on every matter but acknowledged her willingness to engage in productive discussions about education-related issues.

Katherine Curry Decided to Resign

Despite the initial promise, Katherine Curry decided to resign from her position just three months into her tenure. She explained her decision, stating, “It was an honor to be asked by Governor Stitt to serve Oklahoma. I valued my time working alongside him and the rest of his cabinet, but the complexity and political environment have led me to the conclusion that I can better serve Oklahoma’s students and future teachers by dedicating my time and energy to the classroom.

Oklahoma Secretary of Education (Katherine Curry) resigns after months on the job

I thank Governor Stitt for this honor and I trust that he will continue to fight for what’s best for students across Oklahoma.” Curry’s resignation took effect on July 25. Although she spoke with Oklahoma Voice about her departure, she declined News 4’s request for an interview, stating, “I feel like I need to stop interviews at this point. I don’t have much to add.”

Primary Reason for Curry’s Resignation.

Curry cited a lack of access to crucial financial documents as a primary reason for her resignation. She stated that while she was responsible for overseeing the state’s education budget, the OSDE only provided records of high-dollar expenses requiring her signature. She claimed that she was left in the dark when requesting other essential documents, including a monthly fiscal report and the agency’s annual budget.

The OSDE’s Director of Communications, Dan Isett, acknowledged the lack of financial oversight during the transition period when Superintendent Ryan Walters took office. According to Isett, there was insufficient data available at that time to answer many of Secretary Curry’s questions. In response to these challenges, Walters initiated an audit of the OSDE conducted by outside experts. Unfortunately, Katherine Curry resigned before the audit’s completion, but preliminary findings indicated a lack of procedures and policy adherence in budget management. The audit’s details were not disclosed, and News 4 has submitted an open records request to obtain this information.

Representative Mickey Dollens Expressed Disappointment

Representative Mickey Dollens (D-OKC) expressed disappointment over the lack of transparency within the OSDE and expressed concern that Governor Stitt did not intervene to address the situation. He noted that both Curry and Pamela Smith-Gordon, the former OSDE Program Manager for Grant Development and Compliance, resigned within a short time frame, both citing transparency issues.

In her resignation, Smith-Gordon revealed a series of problems within the OSDE, including a lack of access to essential platforms, a refusal to provide a printer for the grant office, delays in approvals and signatures, and a lack of communication from Superintendent Walters. Smith-Gordon was also told not to contact Walters again after expressing her concerns. This lack of leadership and transparency in the OSDE has raised significant questions about the state’s educational system and its commitment to accountability.

Despite Curry’s departure, Governor Kevin Stitt has yet to appoint a new Secretary of Education, leaving the position vacant for over three months. This leadership vacuum raises concerns about the continuity of educational oversight in the state. Furthermore, Representative McBride and Representative Dollens emphasized the importance of transparency between the OSDE and legislators. They stressed that full transparency is needed to address educational challenges and move Oklahoma’s education system forward. Regardless of political affiliations, transparency, truth, and accountability should be non-partisan priorities when it comes to the future of education in the state.

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