Education policy leaders from state Senate, House reflect on Epic Charter Schools audit findings | News

Outgoing Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, longtime chairman of the Senate Education Committee and author of most of the legislation that has allowed Epic to operate and expand, said he doesn’t believe there are any policy implications raised by the forensic audit findings.

“I have read the report and the State Auditor has not convinced me that additional legislation is warranted at this time. With the passage of (House Bill) 1395 there will be much more transparency concerning virtual charter schools. The audit did exactly what it was intended to do, find areas of weakness and allow the school to correct the deficiencies.”

The author of HB 1395, which took effect last year, said she questions whether specific concerns about Epic can be addressed by added transparency and accountability measures because she was dismayed to learn from the state audit report that Epic apparently didn’t comply with the new requirements set forth in that legislation.

Under HB 1395, charter school management organizations must now provide itemized, not estimated, expenditure information to ensure schools can account more fully for their use of taxpayer dollars. The state audit found that Epic Charter Schools did not provide an accurate accounting of actual costs for its for-profit charter school management company, Epic Youth Services.

“I am very disappointed that Epic Youth Services submitted estimates of expenditures after the coding requirements of HB1395 became law. But equally disappointing, is the fact that the State Department of Education accepted the estimates,” said HB 1395 author Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa. “According to the law relating to the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System, schools are required to submit actual costs not estimates.”

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