OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma education officials have approved plans for a charter school with a core mission of serving indigenous students.

The approval Thursday by the state Board of Education came just months after the Oklahoma City Public Schools board denied the application over questions regarding budget and leadership, the Oklahoman reported .

The approval gives the Sovereign Community School permission to open in 2019, creating a public charter school that plans to eventually serve 500 mostly Native American students through culturally sensitive curriculum and other support services.

"If you have an indigenous identity, and maybe you are super connected to it and maybe you're not, this will be a really good place for you," said Phil Gover, the lead applicant for the school.

More than 1,100 Native American students are spread throughout the Oklahoma City district's nearly 90 schools. Advocates for the proposed charter have said it can be difficult helping those students connect with their cultural identity.

Board member Cathryn Frank said she felt uncomfortable with a school targeting a specific ethnicity.

"I agree with so much that has been said on both sides, and I certainly agree with the heart of the matter, but I'm a child of the '60s," she said. "And we were taught segregation is wrong."

Gover told board members the school would reflect the district's diversity.

"Native identity isn't just rooted in our majoritarian concepts of what race and culture is," he said. "I think we are going to attract a cross-section in this city where this student body is going to look perhaps more diverse than any other school."

The school hopes to move into the former Mayfair Elementary School in northwest Oklahoma City.


Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com