OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A long and costly legal battle against former State Sen. Ron Sharp has ended abruptly after he was sued by Epic Charter Schools for libel and slander. Now, the school is dropping their case and will pay an epic payout of half a million dollars, plus legal fees. This payout comes years after then-Sen. Sharp started asking hard questions about the district’s operations.
“It was a mess, and it was stressful,” Sharp said.
Sharp said he began asking questions all the way back in 2018-2019.
“You’re just saying how is this going on?” he said. “They knew exactly how to create this system and its entanglement was pretty tremendous.”
Investigations and audits eventually backed up Sharp’s concerns that Epic’s entire operation was “ripe for fraud.” Millions of Oklahoma tax-dollars were spent on “ghost students” and excessive administration costs. State auditor Cindy Byrd called Epic the “Enron of education.”
“And the kids would come back to the school districts very far behind in their academics saying that they needed one to two years just to catch up,” Sharp said. “I began to ask some questions about what could be done at which to correct those problems and, of course, from there, some of the epic lobbyists showed up to that meeting and the attacks began. “
Sharp was sued personally by Epic. He was sent cease and desist letters and his constituents received political flyers with his picture beside convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein.
“The superintendent of EPIC wrote a very terrible letter to every single legislator saying I was a liar and a cheat,” Sharp said.
Now, Epic is dropping their appeal on the judge’s ruling, which means Sharp should receive the $500,000 as ordered to him by a judge. However, he said that money won’t give him back his Senate and subcommittee seats. He also said it won’t give back his reputation.
“I don’t consider it enough because I enjoyed being a state senator,” he said. “I did not go into the state Senate to attack Epic. It was something that was thrown in my lap. I had a responsibility either to do my job or to get on the payroll of Epic, and I chose of which to do my job and support public schools.”
We reached out to epic for comment, and they did not have an official statement. They point out that the suit was filed when they were managed by Epic Youth Services. Epic Charter Schools severed ties with founders Ben Harris and David Chaney and their management company in May 2021. Currently, Epic is seeking to merge their two branches, Epic one-on-one and Epic blended charter.