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Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent to resign over ‘irreconcilable’ differences with board member

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Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent to resign over ‘irreconcilable’ differences with board member

Feb 26, 2024 | 1:05 pm ET
By Nuria Martinez-Keel
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Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent to resign
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Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel will resign from his post at the end of the school year, the district announced Monday. (Photo by Nuria Martinez-Keel/Oklahoma Voice)

OKLAHOMA CITY — The superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools will resign at the end of this school year, creating a future vacancy at the top of the state’s second-largest school district.

Sean McDaniel submitted his resignation Monday morning to the district’s Board of Education, Oklahoma City schools announced. His resignation will take effect June 30.

McDaniel’s resignation letter, which Oklahoma Voice obtained, states he is departing over “irreconcilable” differences with an unnamed school board member.

“As you know, a particular member of this Board and I have completely different views regarding individual board members’ roles and responsibilities and mine in serving this District,” he wrote. “For months, and in good faith I have tried to bridge that gulf through conversations with the board and with concessions I have been willing to make, but to no avail. I regret that our differing views of who should administer the District on a daily basis are now irreconcilable.”

School boards are meant to provide policy and visionary direction to a school district. Day-to-day operational decisions are traditionally left to the superintendent.

McDaniel has led the district of 33,000 students for six years through significant school consolidations in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic and the passage of a $955 million bond package in 2022. The school board has given McDaniel considerable leeway in decision-making authority, particularly when determining the district’s response to the pandemic.

However, in recent months, some school board members declined to follow his recommendations when voting in favor of approving new charter schools in Oklahoma City.

McDaniel is among the district’s longest-serving superintendents over the past 30 years. The Oklahoma City school board will begin searching for a new candidate for the role.

Chairperson Paula Lewis said the school board is “so proud of the stability in leadership” that McDaniel gave to the position. The superintendent role in Oklahoma City had been a revolving door for five years until he was hired in July 2018.

“Through his six years with OKCPS, Dr. McDaniel has brought long-lasting change and an innovative approach to improving our district,” Lewis said in a statement announcing the resignation.

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt commended McDaniel for his milestone-studded tenure, saying the superintendent was “consistent, reliable and always in tune with what our city needed from him and OKCPS.”

“Six years is an eternity in the world of large urban school districts, and Sean leaves one of the strongest legacies in the long history of OKCPS,” Holt wrote in a social media post.