Epic forced to address special education services following parent complaint, OSDE investigation

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Epic Blended Learning Charter School, now claiming to be the largest school district in the state, is reworking its special education program after one parent’s serious complaint.

In December 2019, a parent complained to the Oklahoma State Department of Education that their child wasn’t receiving the education they deserved.

According to documents obtained by KFOR, the parent said Epic did not provide instructional time for the student for the majority of the 2018-19 school year, and that the student was not able to meet with a teacher.

Epic responded to the allegations, informing the state that a former teacher of the student indicated “that because of [the District’s] online model, one hour a week of direct instruction was appropriate. This information was inaccurate and not aligned with our procedures for ensuring special education students are provided a free appropriate public education (FAPE).” [sic]

But when the OSDE examined Epic’s training guide for students protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, findings showed Epic only called for a total of one hour of direct instruction a week for those students.

The state also found that if a student needed help in more than one area, like reading, writing, and math, those areas would be split into 20 minute instructional periods each, totaling 60 minutes for that week.

As a result of the investigation, the state gave Epic six directives to come into compliance with federal law.

Those include:

  • Providing documentation that the child received the education owed to him or her
  • A requirement for special education employees to complete a survey provided by the OSDE
  • A report of the students who receive special education services that includes their individual service times and areas offered to each student,
  • A plan to correct all instances of noncompliance regarding services offered to the students as well as a correction of district materials, training for all of the special education employees, and a signed statement from the superintendent and school board members stating they’ve received a copy of the decision,
  • That learning plans for individual students will be developed pursuant to state statute,
  • That training will be implemented accordingly.

Epic has until August 28, 2020 to complete training for special education employees. The other directives had March 2020 deadlines. A spokesperson for the OSDE says the state is awaiting an assurance document outlining the completion of these directives before they can be considered satisfied.

Epic leaders declined an interview for this story, but assistant superintendent Shelly Hickman sent a statement saying, “This matter has been resolved, and we have increased professional development for our staff members who serve special education students. Our goal is to provide a quality education to every student.”

News 4 requested to speak with OSDE officials Wednesday morning, but was told in the afternoon that no one was available for an interview.

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