Oklahoma House lawmakers vote to keep ‘ghost students’ at bay, expand school transfers

House lawmakers voted to expand transfers between public schools and to limit the “ghost students” that could appear as a result.

House Bill 2074 and 2078, written as complimentary bills, passed votes on the House Floor on Wednesday. Both bills now move on to the state Senate.

Republicans hailed the legislation as education reform that empowers parents and cleans up financial inefficiency. Democrats, school leaders and education advocacy groups said they fear the proposed changes to school funding could deeply affect urban and rural districts and leave underserved families behind.

HB 2074, called the Education Open Transfer Act, passed with a 77-22 vote. It would extend the open transfer window year-round, limit a school district’s ability to deny transfer students and eliminate emergency transfers, which require specific criteria to complete.

Districts that receive more incoming transfer requests than their capacity allows would have to use a lottery system to decide which transfer students are accepted.

Rep. Brad Boles, who co-wrote the bill with House Speaker Charles McCall, said the COVID-19 pandemic brought school transfers to the forefront. He said some families preferred in-person education and wished to move their children to districts offering it.

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