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September 6, 2013

Constituent outcry spurs OSSAA study

NORMAN — An upcoming legislative study will examine the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. The study came after a state lawmaker was flooded with emails about the organization.

State Rep. Bobby Cleveland said when he ran for office, he had no interest in the organization, but since December, he has been flooded with requests to look into its activities and appeals process.

“As far as the OSSAA is concerned, I believe it is the right model but that it needs some scrutiny and some direction from the Oklahoma Legislature,” said Cleveland, R-Slaughterville. “I have received so many emails about the organization and, after looking into it, I understand that we have some responsibility to know how it is spending the substantial tax dollars it receives from school districts throughout the state.”

State Rep. Gus Blackwell, chair of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Admin Rules, Government Oversight and Repealer Committee to which the study was assigned, said the number of speakers and individuals requesting to participate led him to schedule the study for three days: Sept. 17, Sept. 24 and Oct. 3.

“The study will look at the OSSAA appeals process and its finances,” said Blackwell, R-Laverne. “We will analyze the cost and the benefits of the organization to schools, and we will look at whether more transparency is needed, since courts have ruled it is a quasi-government organization.”

State Reps. Marty Quinn and Jason Murphey also will participate in the study. Quinn said state lawmakers owe their constituents oversight of the organization, as it receives a large portion of its funding from tax dollars.

“We owe it to the citizens to look at the organization’s finances and how it operates,” said Quinn, R-Claremore. “There seems to be the impression among many of our constituents and educators that the organization needs to make changes. If it’s not the case, that will be our finding, but we are going to take this matter seriously. We owe it to our school districts and to the students and parents they serve.”

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