OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Epic Charter Schools representatives say the virtual charter school is now in full compliance with Oklahoma’s Statewide Virtual Charter School Board of Education.

Representatives for Epic, which has been mired in controversy over alleged misuse of state funds by its founders, issued a news release Tuesday, announcing that the charter school reached full compliance.

A Statewide Virtual Charter School Board meeting was held Tuesday, during which a vote on Epic’s compliance designation was held, ending an almost two-year process of Epic trying to return to compliance.

An April 2021 settlement gave Epic the opportunity to rebuild its internal financial controls and its organization leadership to meet requirements, the news release states.

“This is definitely a milestone moment in the history of Epic Charter School. It has been a long road, but on behalf of our Epic team and Board of Education, we are grateful for the patience and direction provided to us by the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board and its leadership,” said Epic Superintendent Bart Banfield. “Today, our hard work and dedication to transforming Epic Charter School was recognized by the organization directly in charge of our oversight.”

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Epic Charter Schools, image KFOR

Epic took over 50 corrective measures to get into compliance with the Virtual Charter School Board’s rules, including the following actions, as quoted from the news release:

  • Severing all ties with Epic Charter School’s former management, Epic Youth Services (EYS) and its founders;
  • Establishing a new Board of Education comprised of business and civic leaders without any previous relationship to EYS management;
  • Creating new checks and balances to strengthen internal controls and ensure fiduciary oversight by Epic’s new Board of Education. This action included hiring a new Deputy Superintendent of Finance;
  • Providing full transparency and accounting of the Learning Fund expenditures and balance;
  • Consolidating two school districts, Epic One-on-One and Epic Blended Charter, which make up 60% and 40% of its student enrollment. The school district consolidation was finalized and approved at the Epic Charter School’s Board meeting on July 13, 2022. This reorganization further provides transparency on financial oversight, streamlines reporting and improves productivity.

State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd and her team conducted an extensive audit of Epic finances, and found numerous irregularities, including misappropriation of state funds.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation launched an investigation into Epic.

OSBI investigators say through Epic Charter Schools, Epic Youth Services (EYS) and the Student Learning Fund, a complicated criminal enterprise emerged that involved among other things: co-mingling of funds, excessive and unnecessary management fees, the use of Oklahoma tax dollars in California, political influence, concealment of profits, submission of false invoices, and the illegal use of employees.

Epic founders Ben Harris and David Chaney, and former CFO Josh Brock were all arrested in June. They face the following charges:

  • Racketeering
  • Embezzlement of State Funds
  • Obtaining Money by False Pretense
  • Conspiracy to Commit a Felony
  • Violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act
  • Submitting False Documents to the State
  • Unlawful Proceeds