OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Epic Charter Schools was placed on probation after a June report released by the Oklahoma State Department of Education noted a number of issues with the district, including an alleged misuse of funds, altered school attendance and unauthorized teacher bonuses.
Epic was one of nine school districts that had its accreditation status changed to “Accreditation with Probation” during Thursday’s meeting of the State Board of Education.
“Epic Charter School at my recommendation to be put on probation was granted that recommendation,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said.
“However, a year ago the State Board did not, they refused” she continued. “Epic fought it and the State Board listened to Epic.”
The Oklahoma State Department of Education has handed the audit over to the District Attorney’s Office for an investigation and possible charges.
“Epic defrauded the state of millions of taxpayer dollars that were meant for children, and they should have been held accountable long ago,” Hofmeister added in a Friday statement to KFOR.
“It’s alarming that Governor Stitt’s appointees refused to take appropriate action following the state auditor’s investigative audit in 2020, and yet we’re seeing a similar pattern repeating now with the board’s shielding of accountability for a private school that has similar red flags as Epic,” she added.
Parents told KFOR Friday that the accreditation status change will not impact their support of the district.
“Epic has been a blessing for our family,” said Trisha Donley in a message to KFOR.
Donley said her oldest daughter shifted to EPIC after the start of the COVID pandemic and following limited school resources for learning disabilities.
“We will never look back,” she added, also saying her daughter has advanced quickly using Epic’s education system.
“I’m not against brick-and-mortar schools,” said Donley. “It needs to be what works best for the child, how they learn and how involved as a parent you can be in their education.”