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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Millions of dollars allocated by the U.S. Department of Education allocated to help Oklahoma students and families with learning during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic has spawned a federal investigation into how the money was used, instead.

A joint effort by reporters from Oklahoma Watch and The Frontier uncovered that Secretary of Education Ryan Walters, then head of the non-profit Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, helped bring tech platform ClassWallet, claiming to maintain the highest levels of oversight and control to make purchases easier, to the state’s attention as a vendor.

The result was a non-competitive bid contract with the state with little government oversight and half a million dollars in purchases for items like dishwashers, TVs, video game consoles, and more.

The Florida-based platform said the state was ultimately responsible for monitoring oversight and allocation, telling KFOR in an email Monday that the “client is the administrator of its specific program and ClassWallet simply provides the technology platform.”

In an interview Monday the reporters behind the investigation, Jennifer Palmer of Oklahoma Watch along with Clifton Adcock and Reese Gorman from The Frontier joined KFOR to talk about what factors led to their investigation and the challenges they faced sourcing key information.

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