As Oklahoma State Board of Education last week refused to reconsider sanctions it handed down to two districts last month under a state law prohibiting certain conversations on race, one lawmaker seems to be having a little “buyer’s remorse.”

His remorse comes because it impacts a school district he represents. Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang — who voted for the law — released a statement in defense of the Mustang Public Schools district, whose accreditation was downgraded by the state board.

“Regardless of the implications of this ruling, I know that our Mustang Public School teachers, administrators, coaches and support staff are among the best in the state,” Hill said.

He added that legislation is needed to ensure “due process” for school districts faced with a similar situation.

“I’m looking into filing legislation to ensure Oklahoma’s schools and citizens have protections of their rights to due process, even from unelected boards,” Hill said.

Well, duh.

What happened with both the Tulsa and Mustang school districts is exactly what school districts had feared when House Bill 1785 was passed. District leaders complained they had very little guidance and that the verbiage of the legislation was vague and too easily up for individual interpretation.

Enter the state board members hand-picked by Gov. Kevin Stitt, who led the sanctioning and warning of the two school districts, and who doubled down last week.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has rules that call for notifying a district of the department’s recommendation prior to the annual accreditation meeting. With Mustang Public Schools, they did not get a chance for explanation before the board’s decision to downgrade their accreditation.

While we think this law was a bad idea in the first place, the least that can be done is for a school district’s due process rights to be clarified and strengthened.

Other state representatives and senators should take notice, because the school districts they represent may be the next targeted by the state board under this law.

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