Lawmakers call Ed Dept. to investigate Boismier for possible HB 1775 infraction

·4 min read

Sep. 10—Some state lawmakers want the Oklahoma Department of Education to investigate former Norman Public Schools teacher Summer Boismer for a possible violation of a law that bans schools from teaching anything that says a student should feel discomfort on the basis of race or sex.

They've called for an investigation nine days after state Secretary of Education Ryan Walters called for the state Board of Education to revoke Boismier's teaching certificate.

Boismier, a former Norman High School English teacher, cited the law in question, known as House Bill 1775, when she put butcher paper over her classroom shelves with the words "Books the state doesn't want you to read" written on the paper.

She also gave students a QR code to the Brooklyn Public Library's Books Unbanned Project.

Boismier quit her job Aug. 24 after a meeting with NPS administration where they cited a complaint from a parent who said she made political statements in the classroom.

Eleven Republican state representatives, including bill author Kevin West, R-Moore, and three Republican state senators have called for the investigation.

The Friday statement announcing the call for investigation alleges Boismier "skirted" the law, and cited a television report in which she called herself "a walking HB 1775 violation."

"Oklahoma parents are not interested in having teachers' personal political beliefs forced upon their children," the lawmakers said in the release. "They simply want their children to receive a quality education and to keep politics out of the classroom. Teachers who willingly and repeatedly break the law have no place in our schools."

The lawmakers in the release also said it's "incumbent" upon the department to put the matter on the state Board of Education's agenda to determine if Boismier actually violated the law, and if the teacher's certification should be revoked.

Rob Crissinger, spokesperson for the Department of Education, said last week that to department officials' knowledge, it would be the first certificate revocation of its kind.

The Department of Education usually revokes teachers' certificates in connection with criminal offenses.

Crissinger did not immediately respond Friday afternoon to request for comment on the request for investigation.

Boismier has argued the classroom is an inherently political space, and said she can't fully teach Black and LGBTQ literature without invoking discomfort.

"I would do what I did again and again and again until I did not need to do it anymore," Boismier said in a written statement to The Transcript. "HB 1775 is a shameful attempt to require bigotry from Oklahoma's public schools. The legislators who authored and/or voted to affirm this legislation would be better off buying mics and starting a podcast. They are clearly incompetent when it comes to representing all of their constituents."

In his Aug. 31 letter calling for the board to revoke Boismier's teaching certificate, Walters alleged Boismier had a "liberal political agenda" and gave students access to pornographic material with the QR code.

Walters cited the book Gender Queer, a graphic novel that involves themes of gender and sexuality, in their argument that Boismier allegedly provided pornography to the students by providing the QR code. At least one obscenity lawsuit concerning the book has been dismissed outside of Oklahoma.

In the news release, legislators said pornographic material was not an issue addressed in HB 1775.

HB 1775: What it says, what it has done

If action was taken against Boismier, it would be the third HB 1775 citation since it went into effect in 2021.

The law includes eight points Walters says the state defines as "indoctrination." They include:

* Teaching that someone is inherently racist on the basis of their race or sex

* Teaching that an individual should be discriminated against or be treated adversely solely or partly because of their race or sex

* Teaching that members of one race or sex can't and shouldn't try to treat others without respect on the basis of their race or sex

* Teaching that someone bears responsibility for past actions from others in the same race or sex

* Teaching that someone should "feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress" on the basis of their race or sex

In July, the state Board of Education voted to lower Tulsa and Mustang public schools' accreditation status to "accredited with warning" based on alleged HB 1775 infractions.

Tulsa Public Schools' accreditation was lowered after a high school teacher complained that staff training in August 2021 included statements that shame white people.

The Department of Education didn't find a violation in the training itself, but audio of the session stated that "deeply rooted stereotypes, built over time and by history and culture, can still be found in classrooms."

A department lawyer said the statements didn't directly say someone should feel guilt or discomfort, but that "the design and basis" makes it "more likely than not" that it incorporates or is based on this concept, according to The Frontier.

Mustang Public Schools' accreditation was lowered after a team-building activity that asked if they faced discrimination or had ever treated anyone that way, according to The Oklahoman.