Dr. April Grace Should NOT Be Elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction for These Reasons
Unfortunately, Ron Arthur was a coach in the Shawnee Public School system for years while charges of sexually inappropriate behavior with students were alleged but never researched. In addition, though April Grace will claim to be a Republican, those in the education cartel – dubbed #oklaed on social media – back Grace.
Since July of 2021, newspaper outlets and other media sources have finally brought to light a scandal which many Shawnee parents know well – the continued employment of Coach Ron Arthur by the Shawnee Public School (SPS) system under the direction of Superintendent Dr. April Grace from 2016.
In July, 2021, an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct found that Coach Arthur had been admonished numerous times for inappropriate behavior. Coach Arthur was jailed in early August and placed on paid suspension by SPS. At that time, his attorney said he was innocent of all crimes;
“My client has cooperated and told the sheriff’s office that there was a consensual act with that particular individual but he was graduated from high school at the time,” attorney Shelley Levisay said. “So he was not a student.
The victim – who self-reported to authorities – said the incident occurred while he was 17, after graduation but while he was still participating as an athlete in school sports functions.
Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Deputy, Amber Soule, wrote, in her arrest affidavit that she had
“located 8 admonishments and suspensions of Ronald Arthur for his vulgar and sexual comments to male students and vulgar comments about female students, allegations of having inappropriately touched a male’s buttocks, sending inappropriate text messages to students and having contact with students alone when he was not allowed to per his previous reinstatements”
August 19th, Dr. Grace wrote a statement about the arrest which was posted to the Shawnee Public Schools website. In the letter Dr. Grace provides a timeline of action taken by the administration AFTER Coach Arthur’s arrest, and ends the letter with;
Shawnee Public Schools fully supports the legal due process afforded to anyone accused of inappropriate behavior with minors and the punishment enforced through the courts. We do not tolerate the behavior that is alleged and have acted swiftly to provide documents and full cooperation and will continue to do so throughout the investigation.
The letter makes no mention, however, of the previous complaints about Coach Arthur or what action was taken following the 8 admonishments and suspensions Deputy Soule had uncovered through her investigation of his file going back – apparently – to 2007.
September 3rd, Coach Arthur resigned SPS, charged with three sex crimes: second-degree rape, forcible sodomy and soliciting sexual contact with a minor by use of technology.
April 2022, State Senator Shane Jett (R-Shawnee) called for a multi-county grand jury to review the case of Coach Arthur after an alleged victim reported that he was targeted by Arthur in 2007. The victim claimed he had repeatedly reported the abuse without any action forthcoming.
The first Monday in June, 2022, a former student sued Arthur for “actual and punitive damages” for the 2021 sexual encounter for which he was charged and SPS for ignoring the reports of sexual misconduct that allowed his actions to continue.
Later in June, Pottawatomie County Court dropped 2 of the three charges, but ordered Arthur to stand trial for the felony count of “solicitation of a minor”. He will return to court in August.
Truly this is outrageous. No person should be enabled to continue sexual relationships with children, but certainly not at the TAXPAYERS EXPENSE. Why the Pottawattamie County authorities could find information about Arthur but Grace and the SPS Board could not makes no sense. Why then would ANYONE within the SPS system – let alone the Superintendent – allow this on their watch?
The lack of reasonable answer to THAT question is the reason no voter should declare a vote for Dr. April Grace for State Superintendent.
WHO SUPPORTS DR. APRIL GRACE?
In addition, Grace’s campaign is supported by the very people who support the SYSTEM and not parents.
According to State Ethics reports, Shawn Hime – President of the OSSBA (Oklahoma State School Boards Association) – and Ann Caine, Director of Education Leadership at OSSBA – have so far both donated $2,800 (the maximum amount an individual can give to a campaign is $2,900) to Dr. Grace’s campaign. OSSBA is the organization that has NOT withdrawn from its parent organization NSBA (National School Boards Association) after President Biden’s Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, asked NSBA to send a letter to President Biden’s Attorney General, Merrick Garland, asking him to meet with federal and local law enforcement and state AGs toward the goal of “addressing” school board outbursts and “threats”. Twenty-eight (28) states – Texas and Wisconsin this year – in all have left NSBA over its treatment of parents. OSSBA HAS NOT.
Rick Cobb – Superintendent of Mid-Del Public Schools has also given Superintendent Cobb was one of the first to denounce HB1775 – the ‘stop CRT’ bill in Oklahoma – last year. In addition, he was a prominent member of the “teacher caucus” who, in 2016, began targeting legislators they deemed ‘against’ public education. Teachers – backed by this group; many of whom changed their political affiliations to run – ran and won many seats in the legislature in order to forward policies favorable to public education. He is also a proponent of using tax-payer funded email systems to send emails to community families in support of raising taxes to increase the public school budget.
Former General Leo Baxter has given the maximum amount to April Grace’s campaign. General Baxter – who serves on the Board of OCPA, and was a State Board of Education member – fought ROPE and teachers wanting the new Oklahoma Standards to be free of Common Core. Here are just a few of Baxter’s posts on social media during that time:
Then there was this, from Rick Cobb’s blog March 19, 2016 where he calls Dr. Sandra Stotsky – a preeminent Professor of Education and one of two members of the Common Core Validation Committee who would not sign off on the standards – an “arrogant miscreant”:
All this to say – as our parents told us – you are the company you keep.
Between Grace’s inability to prevent a sexual predator from contacting students on her campus and some of the major funders to her campaign, we can be very well assured that Dr. April Grace (who was unable to be present for our Republican State Superintendent Forum) is NOT the person we need to have in the top spot at the Oklahoma Department of Education.