OSDE no longer has lawyers on staff according to department’s website

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s website, the department no longer has any lawyers on its staff.

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The names of Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) General Counsel Bryan Cleveland, Deputy General Counsel Andy Ferguson and Assistant General Counsel Nathan Downey no longer appear under a staff list on the “legal services” page on OSDE’s website.

Their names still appeared on the site as of a March 7 archive of the “legal services’ page by the Wayback Machine, but as of March 27, they no longer appear.

At Thursday’s state school board meeting, a private attorney hired by the Oklahoma State School Board presented pertinent legal matters pertaining to the OSDE to the board. Typically at past board meetings, that task has been handled by OSDE’s in-house legal team.

That attorney is Cara Nicklas.

Nicklas confirmed to News 4 she does not work for OSDE.

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“I am not the General Counsel for the Oklahoma State Department of Education,” Nicklas told News 4. “I am legal counsel for the State Board of Education. I have been legal counsel for the Board since December. I am also a private attorney.”

News 4 previously confirmed General Counsel Cleveland and Deputy Counsel Ferguson resigned from their roles within the past month.

News 4 has not been able to independently confirm the status of Assistant Counsel Downey’s employment with OSDE, beyond the fact his name was removed from OSDE’s website.

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News 4 reached out to OSDE spokesperson Dan Isett to get clarity on the status of OSDE’s legal staff, asking him why the three lawyers’ names were removed from OSDE’s website, and why Nicklas was handling their roles at Thursday’s board meeting.

Isett chose not to respond to KFOR’s questions.

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