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UPDATE: Senate Panel OKs Plan to Strip Power From Ed. Board (Feb 07, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A state Senate committee has approved a bill to strip power from the Oklahoma State Board of Education and give the state school superintendent complete control of the agency.

In a straight-party vote, the Senate Education Committee voted 12-5 on Monday in favor of the bill by Republican Sen. John Ford.

Democrats criticized the bill as a "knee-jerk" reaction to a contentious meeting last month in which several staff recommendations of newly elected Republican Superintendent Janet Barresi were rejected by the board. The board is made up of appointments by former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry.

Ford says the bill takes into account the "will of the voters" and takes power from an unelected board. He says the idea for the bill was discussed before last month's meeting.

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