Virtual Charter School Board Starts Administrative Process to Potentially End Contract with Epic

Oct 13, 2020

Embattled Epic Charter Schools took another hit on Tuesday.

After reviewing a state auditor’s report, the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board started the process of terminating its contract with Epic Charter Schools’ governing board. Board counsel and Assistant Attorney General Marie Schubel laid out 42 potential violations by Community Strategies, Inc., ranging from using state funds out of state to not fully cooperating with auditors.

"We heard about the many students and many teachers who are tied to Epic today. Those individuals are why this board is here and why this board takes their contract terms seriously. We have to protect online education, we have to protect strong choices and protect the schools that are operating within the terms of their contract," Schubel said.

Superintendent Bart Banfield told the board Tuesday Epic wants a chance to show it’s fully compliant with its contract and the law but needs the state auditor’s work papers to do so.

"You have my word that Epic is fully prepared to work cooperatively with this board, with the State Department of Education and with the special counsel in pursuit of the facts," Banfield said.

Auditor’s staff said their work papers are public record. Epic also must repay the State Department of Education $11.2 million and is under scrutiny of special counsel appointed by Attorney General Mike Hunter.

Virtual Charter School Board Chairman John Harrington reminded Oklahomans the Epic audit is not a commentary on charter schools.

"It is not a report about whether a student has a good teacher, nor is it a commentary about the merits of online education or the impact of charter schools. This report is about the actions of individuals trusted with public funds," Harrington said.

The virtual charter school board will not make a decision on terminating the contract for at least 90 days.