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Epic Charter School Hit With $10 Million In Penalties

An Epic Charter School administrative office.
Whitney Bryen
/
Oklahoma Watch
An Epic Charter School administrative office.

Epic Charter School has been hit with more than $10 million in penalties by Oklahoma’s State Department of Education.

The sanctions are largely due to accusations by the state of Epic violating a virtual charter school transparency law passed in 2019.

In a pair of letters to Epic’s One-on-One Charter School and Epic’s Blended Charter School, the district is accused of misreporting how it spends money to the state and overpaying for administrative costs. 

The accusations are similar to ones made in State Auditor Cindy Byrd’s investigative audit from last year. The letters were first reported by the Tulsa World newspaper.

Virtual charter schools who contract with a management company are required to report actual expenses, rather than estimates as Epic had been doing previously. They are also required to keep administrative costs - generally costs outside of actual education - down

The state says Epic has done neither. The district was again penalized for overpaying administrators and misreporting funds.

The school will have to pay a $7.13 million penalty for the virtual school and a $3.37 million penalty for the blended academy for the violations.

The money will be deducted from Epic’s upcoming state funding payments and redistributed to other schools around the state who haven’t been penalized.

“We are in the process of reviewing the assessment,” an Epic spokeswoman told the Tulsa World. “Our school and our board are working to bring additional transparency to our operations in the interest of serving our 60,000 kids and their families. They remain our focus.”

Epic still hasn’t paid back an $11.2 million clawback to the state and a criminal probe of the school and its founders is ongoing. 

The school has instituted some reforms, though. Earlier this week, its governing board opened to make the controversial learning fund - which doles out up to $1,000 per student for educational expenses to families - public for the first time.

 

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