Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

DRS Chief Resigns, Key Hire Rescinded

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

DRS Chief Resigns, Key Hire Rescinded

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services Executive Director Joe Cordova resigned Thursday amid complaints of favoritism.

The commission that oversees the agency also rescinded one of Cordova's key hires, Oklahoma School for the Blind Superintendent Christine Boone.

Cordova's resignation letter wasn't available Friday, and the agency did not elaborate on any reasons he gave for leaving. DRS spokeswoman Jody Harlan said Noel Tyler will serve as interim director. Tyler serves as administrator for the Disability Determination Division.

State Rep. Jerry McPeak, who was critical of the superintendent's hiring in August, said Cordova's resignation probably wasn't just about the controversy over his selection of Boone.

"It was much more likely to have been a cumulative effect of perhaps some other actions and situations that might have been questionable," said McPeak, who did not attend the Thursday special meeting of the Commission for Rehabilitation Services.

McPeak, a Democrat, represents an area near the Muskogee-based school.

In August, Cordova told The Journal Record that he sacked the previous superintendent when he saw an issue with how students were treated at the School for the Blind. Instead of being coddled, he said, students should be challenged. Boone would implement his vision.

"I experienced (being coddled) at the school for the blind I went to; that's not good for anybody," said Cordova. "Basically, the message you're sending and receiving as a blind person is that you need to be protected."

Boone never earned the required certification to be a superintendent. Harlan said Boone was scheduled to take the test as soon as the state Department of Education could create one that accommodated her own visual disability. She was hired last year as an interim superintendent, but Cordova recently appointed her to permanently fill the position. …

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