Ray Carter | April 19, 2022

Controversial Owasso teacher ‘is no longer in the classroom’

Ray Carter

An Owasso teacher has been allowed to resign despite a public allegation that he engaged in grooming, following publicity regarding the teacher’s social media postings.

On April 11, the “Libs of TikTok” Twitter account shared a TikTok video posted by Owasso teacher Tyler Wrynn in which Wrynn declared, “If your parents don’t accept you for who you are, f--k them. I’m your parents now.”

The “Libs of TikTok” Twitter account then stated that Wrynn “was let go last week after complaints of grooming and this tiktok + others containing questionable content were brought to the principal’s attention.”

The “Libs of TikTok” account also shared a post attributed to Wrynn on the “Advocating for Owasso LGBTQIA+ Youth” Facebook group. That post stated, “Unfortunately, the district is letting me go. I’ll be on administrative leave for the rest of the year, so at least they are going to pay out the rest of my contract. Again, thank you for the support. I guess I was a little too vocal about supporting our LGBTQIA+ kids.”

The Owasso school district declined to comment on whether Wrynn was investigated for grooming children or if his resignation was tied to other potential violations of school policy.

“Tyler Wrynn is no longer in the classroom and the Board of Education accepted his resignation on April 11 at its regular monthly meeting,” Jordan Korphage, director of communications for Owasso Public Schools, said in a statement. “As this is a personnel issue, we are unable to provide further comment.”

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) describes grooming as “manipulative behaviors that the abuser uses to gain access to a potential victim, coerce them to agree to the abuse, and reduce the risk of being caught,” and notes that grooming behaviors “can take place online or in-person” and are used by individuals “in the victim’s circle of trust,” including teachers.

RAINN states that one grooming technique often used by abusers is to “attempt to physically or emotionally separate a victim from those protecting them and often seek out positions in which they have contact with minors.”

Wrynn’s TikTok video is not the only instance where he appeared to try to insert himself between students and their parents or guardians in a way that could be considered to be emotionally isolating.

On a blog site, “The Inkwell’s Heart,” where Wrynn described himself as a “a writer and teacher from the Midwest,” Wrynn wrote on Jan. 4, 2021, that much of his work as a teacher involves countering what students learn from adults, and implied families are teaching their children hate.

Wrynn wrote he spends “a considerable amount of my time uprooting and deconstructing harmful stereotypes and misconceptions that my students have regarding various groups of objectified and marginalized folx. This is no fault of their own, and I don’t blame them for bringing their vitriol into my classroom. Most of them are just dumb kids, and a lot of their hate is learned from even dumber adults. That being said, I hold them accountable for the sewage that bubbles up out of their mouths, and I do my best to make sure that they see their prejudice for what it is.”

In addition to apparently using his classroom to attack the guidance of his students’ parents, Wrynn’s TikTok videos also sent students the message that police were not to be trusted.

One Tik Tok video posted by Wrynn declares, “I don’t know what you kids are up to, but I do know one thing: Laws are threats made by the dominant socio-economic ethnic group in a given nation. It’s just the promise of violence that’s enacted, and police are basically an occupying army.”

On Wrynn’s TikTok site, he describes himself as a “radical teacher,” and the videos he posted also included attacks on whites and capitalism and an apparent endorsement of violence.

In one of Wrynn’s videos, he states, “Violence never solves anything; we need to appeal to our enemy’s humanity,” accompanied by a caption reading, “Me talking about politics @ school.” But when the caption changes to “Me talking about politics @ home,” Wrynn states, “If you break a Nazi’s arm, he has 50 percent less arms to do Nazi s—t with.”

In another Wrynn video titled, “English teacher hot takes,” a caption states, “There is no ‘proper’ way of speaking English. ‘Standard English’ is just the dialect of old, white men.”

Another of Wrynn’s Tik Tok videos includes a caption that declares, “‘Neurodivergent’ just means ‘participates poorly in capitalism.’”

In one video, Wrynn objected to a recent Facebook post that encouraged citizens to “say an extra prayer of thanks for the teachers.” He declared that “teachers don’t need prayer” and encouraged viewers to instead do things like, “Stop listening to people who say that teachers are indoctrinating students with ‘leftist’ ideas,” making air quotes with his hands for effect.

District officials have received complaints about Wrynn’s activities going back to at least to the start of the current 2021-2022 school year.

“I reported him back in August to (Superintendent) Amy Fichtner and to Lisa Johnson, the HR director,” said Owasso parent Ron Causby. “And nothing was done.”

Causby said district officials indicated an investigation was conducted but nothing related to the investigation could be discussed because it was a personnel matter.

(Fichtner has since resigned as the district’s superintendent.)

Causby said he believes one of Wrynn’s videos, shot in a classroom, violated provisions of House Bill 1775 and the school district’s code-of-conduct for employees. Causby said his August 2021 complaint did not relate to sexual grooming of students.

House Bill 1775, which became law last year, made it illegal to teach Oklahoma students that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

The legislation also banned teaching that “an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex,” or teaching students that “meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race.”

Notably, Wrynn publicly opposed HB 1775 in comments submitted to the Oklahoma State Department of Education during the rulemaking process for the new law.

“I am a teacher in Oklahoma. With the passage of HB 1775, I (am) concerned that my colleagues and I will be unfairly targeted by vindictive parents,” Wrynn wrote. “The proposed rules are vague and written in such a way that the actions described are open to interpretation. Teachers will face unwarranted scrutiny and pressure to modify their curricula in a manner that does not benefit students. Please trust teachers to instruct without injecting discriminatory principles into their lessons. Further, there is no evidence that educators were teaching students that they should feel discomfort or guilt. If this bill is passed, it will cause the resignation of Oklahoma’s best teachers.”

As noted by Causby, the Owasso school district’s policy manual includes several provisions that appear to address behaviors exhibited by Wrynn on social media.

The school district’s policy on “Acceptable Use of Electronic and Digital Communications Devices” states, “Any electronic or digital communication which can be considered inappropriate, harassing, intimidating, threatening or bullying to an employee or student of the district—regardless of whether the activity uses district equipment or occurs during school/work hours—is strictly forbidden. Employees and students face the possibility of penalties, including student suspension and employee termination, for failing to abide by district policies when accessing and using electronic or digital communications.”

The policy also states that any electronic or digital communication “in which the employee can be identified as an employee of the district—regardless of whether the communication is made with district owned equipment or during work hours—must be a professional communication.”

Owasso school employees are prohibited from engaging in electronic or digital communications that “model inappropriate conduct, or are otherwise inconsistent with the district’s mission and goals.”

“Employees are expressly forbidden from using electronic or digital communication in a manner inconsistent with their position as a role model for students,” the policy states.

A request for comment was sent to Wrynn via the email address he used to submit comments on HB 1775. As of publication, no response had been received.

According to the advocacy group, Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation (SESAME), a school employee accused of sexual abuse or misconduct will, on average, be transferred to three different schools before he or she is reported to law enforcement.

One state lawmaker believes more should be done to address school-employee misconduct and abuse.

During a recent press conference, state Sen. Shane Jett said he hopes to “remove the ability for districts to allow predators to resign,” noting such resignations allow pedophiles to more easily shift from one district to another.

“My legislation said if you have been caught abusing substances with children as a teacher, or if you have done something that’s moral turpitude or have endangered a child, then it has to be adjudicated in the school district,” said Jett, R-Shawnee. “You’re not allowed to resign, but you must be fired so that they can’t scurry off to another district (while) everyone’s gagged and cannot talk about anything that’s happened in executive session or they can’t comment about personnel issues. We have to put the safety of our children above protecting the reputation of someone who abuses children.”

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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