OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s a war of words between a state senator and EPIC Charter Schools.
Senator Ron Sharp claims EPIC has violated state law on a number of issues.
From the beginning, EPIC leaders have maintained they’ve done nothing wrong.
Now, they say it’s Senator Sharp who’s in the wrong.
“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 makes those strong allegations against EPIC, claiming 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.
”We either have libel or we have ignorance. What he’s saying about EPIC is a lie,” Bobby Stem said.
Stem is the founding chairman of the board for EPIC and now handles their government relations.
He says Senator 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.
EPIC’s financial reports can be found online through the Department of Education’s website, just like any other public school.
By law, schools must use the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System.
”We are also audited annually from an auditing firm that’s on a list that must be preapproved by the Department [of Education], so everything is in OCAS,” Stem said.
News 4 has obtained a letter from the State Department of Education to Senator 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, and still, no charges have been filed.
EPIC leaders tell News 4 they are exploring legal options in regard to Sen. Sharp’s comments.
If you’re wondering how EPIC is doing when it comes to serving students, EPIC was below the state average on all 14 required tests for kids in third to eighth grade, according to recent test scores.