OKLAHOMA CITY – Officials with a charter school are demanding a state lawmaker retract his recent comments or face legal action.
Earlier this month, Oklahoma Sen. Ron Sharp told News 4 that EPIC Charter Schools has violated state law on a number of issues.
“If this goes the way it looks like it’s going right now, this could be the biggest political scandal in American history,” Sen. Ron Sharp (R – Shawnee) said.
He claims the charter school system is making a “blatant misrepresentation of enrollment numbers” to get more state funding.
”They’re out of compliance. That’s not a question, and that’s costing our taxpayer dollars millions,” Sen. Sharp said.
However, leaders with EPIC say they have done nothing wrong.
“We either have libel or we have ignorance. What he’s saying about EPIC is a lie,” Bobby Stem, founding chairman of the board for EPIC, said.
Stem says Sen. Sharp’s claims are false and insists EPIC complies with all financial reporting laws.
“Every dollar is accounted for, and because of some recent legislation, even the management company will begin disclosing some of those dollars as well now. I don’t know where he’s getting that, but what’s more concerning is that a senator who sits on the Senate education appropriations committee doesn’t know this,” Stem said.
News 4 obtained a letter from the State Department of Education to Sen. Sharp saying EPIC has abided by the law.
”The State Board of Education did not do their oversight authority, and the state virtual charter school board, no one did their due diligence in making sure this is compliant, and that’s why the OSBI is having to come in, and we don’t know how far that’s going to go,” Sen. Sharp said.
The OSBI has been investigating EPIC since February, but no charges have been filed.
At the time, EPIC leaders told News 4 they were exploring legal options in regard to Sen. Sharp's comments.
Now, an attorney for EPIC Charter Schools has issued a 'cease and desist' request to Sen. Sharp
Sharp says it is "troubling" that the school doesn't understand it is open to public scrutiny since it receives public funding.
"It is the statutory responsibility of a legislator to scrutinize every single dollar that is spent by a public school. In the case of Epic, $111 million was allocated in FY 2018-19 to Epic as a public school. Any questionable allocation of tax dollars to any public agency or school must be thoroughly examined. For a public school to consider that a legislator responsible for oversight of tax dollars should cease and desist in questioning its spending is unprecedented," Sen. Sharp said in a statement.