State department of education gives Epic 60 days to pay back $11.2 million to state after scathing audit’s release

E.B. Thompson

elizabeth.thompson@sapulpatimes.com 

The Oklahoma State Department of Education held a special meeting on Monday, October 12 to address the audit report of Epic Charter Schools released October 1 by State Auditor & Inspector (SA&I) Cindy Byrd. 

The devastatingly critical report concluded that approximately $8.9 million of dollars of taxpayers’ money in the form of government appropriations meant to educate students has been grossly mishandled and that the school owes that money back to the state. 

Epic issued a 132-page rebuttal the next day, hotly denying each of the report’s 21 findings.  

The agenda for today’s special OSDE meeting included just two items—to discuss the SA&I’s audit report and to convene in executive session “to discuss confidential communications with legal counsel concerning a pending investigation, claim, or action concerning Epic Charter Schools (Epic One-on-One and Epic-Blended).” 

In the Zoom meeting video streamed live on the OSDE Facebook page earlier today, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said of the SA&I’s report, “the findings are very significant and alarming.” She also emphasized that this meeting related to Epic’s “operations and not their instruction” capabilities. 

After a report from SA&I’s director of the Epic audit, Brenda Holt, and upon return from their executive session, the OSDE Board voted unanimously to “demand” that Epic pay approximately $11.2 million back to the state within 60 days. 

The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board will meet Tuesday, October 13 and their agenda includes possible action on terminating their contract with Epic Charter Schools and recusing board member Matthew Hamrick from voting on any Epic-related items. Hamrick has been accused of alleged assistance of wrongdoing with Epic’s management and administration.  

Additionally, it was announced in a press release issued by the House of Representatives today that “Byrd will present findings and answer questions at a public joint hearing [on] October 21 of the House Common Education and House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee for Education.”

This is an ongoing story. 

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E. B. Thompson

E. B. Thompson

Born and raised in Sapulpa, Elizabeth has a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies and is a former banker. She is thrilled to be back in her hometown with her husband Michael and to be contributing to The Sapulpa Times.