Yukon Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth and school board made the decision last May to use Election Day as a day off.
Simeroth said he felt like it was the right thing to do for his teachers.
“I believe we are doing the right thing,” he said Tuesday at the Legislative Breakfast in Yukon. “Last year, the teachers walked out and forced action to be taken by our legislature. We don’t want this to be a once every 20 year event. As a whole, teachers comprise the largest voting group in the state. Education is the foundation of this country.”
Yukon Public Schools and Simeroth have received backlash for having no school on Tuesday. At the Legislative Breakfast, Yukon resident Mark Thomas was vocal about his disapproval of Yukon being out of class on Election Day.
“I have heard from a lot of people, and the action you and the school board took was not appreciated by a lot of people,” Thomas said. “Teachers have every opportunity to vote. You all are just making a statement on the backs and time of parents.”
Simeroth responded by saying Thomas’ comments were not true.
“We took a day off that we had scheduled in April and moved it to today (Tuesday). It’s no more or no less.”
Simeroth would continue to say that any student who walks through public education doors, gets educated and that the state needs to continue to fund education, even though he believes the state did a great job last year.
“Every person that I personally talked to that had concerns about us taking this day off said, ‘OK’ when I told them why we felt this was important.”
After Thomas said that people have to be able to schedule when they start school, Simeroth responded by saying this day off was scheduled in May.
Thomas then apologized and said he spoke out of turn.
After hearing and seeing some of the backlash regarding the day off, he released this statement:
“Speaking to the concern of school being closed on Election Day, the decision to do so was not made haphazardly and was approved by the board May 6, 2018. As an educator, I have seen the majority of our legislators ignore and if not ignore, bash public education for the last 23 years. Last year we, public educators, stood up and said we have had enough and went to the halls of the government demanding action and action was taken. My staff and others around the state needed to make sure that this is not a once every 20 year occurrence and we need to keep our legislators on notice that the largest voting group in Oklahoma will be an active part of improving public education by being active voters each and every November election day.
Furthermore, the teachers made certain that we did not lose any instructional time. The teachers took it upon themselves to take a day scheduled for no school in April, perhaps the longest and hardest month in the calendar, and move it to November. Yukon Public Schools is dedicated to advocating for and educating to the highest level every child in our district.”