Epic officials believe many shortcomings have been addressed by the school’s recent consolidation

Epic Charter School’s first response to its state probation will be that its recent consolidation of two schools into one unified system may have solved the vast majority of its shortcomings.

The school’s board of trustees on Wednesday approved a proposed corrective action plan that Epic will submit to the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

At the end of July, Epic was one of nine districts to be placed on probation by the National Board of Education. Probation is the last step before a district loses its state accreditation and is forced to close.

Epic, one of the largest public schools in the state, currently has about 30,000 students.

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Its co-founders, David Chaney and Ben Harris, and former chief financial officer Josh Brock, were eliminated in May 2021. Then in June this year, the trio was arrested and charged in Oklahoma County District Court with Epic scam out of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars by enrolling phantom students, falsifying bills and fraudulently using credit cards paid for with school funds to cover personal and outside charter school expenses and even political contributions.

“Over the past 18 months, Epic Charter School has been in the midst of a transformational shift in both leadership and culture,” said Ginger Casper, Chairman of Epic’s Board of Trustees. “Through this work, many of the issues highlighted by the Oklahoma State Department of Education have already been addressed and resolved. For the remaining elements, Epic Charter School respectfully submits this plan with meaningful, measurable, responsible and sustainable actions to achieve full compliance.

“We are committed to working alongside our OSDE partners to provide updates on our progress and receive guidance as the school year progresses.”

After a seven-month investigation, state education officials claimed this summer that Epic administrators gave themselves $8.6 million in “inappropriate” bonus payments in June 2021; that the school did not comply with federal law governing the education of students with special needs; and that his school board had committed possible ‘deliberate violations’ of the open meeting law and that some board members had ‘grossly exceeded their role’ by interfering with administrators, directing employees out of meetings of the board and engaging in transactions for the school district without prior board approval.

Brandon Webb, executive director of legal services at Epic, told the school board on Wednesday evening that of the nine areas identified as requiring remedial action by the state, Epic had already addressed seven. perhaps a few months before school administrators can fully address the remaining two or three areas of need.

According to the proposed corrective action plan, bonuses for directors were eliminated effective June 30, 2021, which was the last day of the last fiscal year overseen by Chaney, Harris and Brock at Epic.

A host of shortcomings related to insurance and other benefits and the way Epic had counted and reported its many employees shared by the former statewide virtual charter school Epic One-on-One and Epic Blended Learning Centers were all a variation of this answer: “Effective July 1, 2022, all employees are only reported under Epic Charter School, and no duplicate or split reporting will occur.

Prior to the start of 2022-23, Epic One-on-One, sponsored by the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, and Epic Blended, sponsored by Rose State College, were consolidated into one school system under the sponsorship of the Statewide Commission charter virtual school.

Additionally, Epic’s response to the state regarding the two board issues is that Epic will provide training on Oklahoma’s open meeting law to all board members and conduct a review. of its governance policies this winter.

“In addition, the district is working with the Oklahoma State School Boards Association to help develop policies. Epic is working to put policies and safeguards in place to address past concerns,” the document states.

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