Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, issued the following statement Thursday afternoon after the State Auditor’s office released findings of the first part of their audit of Epic Charter Schools that focused on the funds held by the school.
“I’m not surprised with the findings of the audit of Epic Charter Schools as I’ve been trying to point out their illegal use of state funds for years with no avail. I commend Gov. Stitt for having the courage to call for this special audit and State Auditor Cindy Byrd for providing oversight and accountability of this unfortunate situation. Past leaders refused to listen to or acknowledge what I was trying to tell them. Not surprising, besides the millions of taxpayer dollars wasted by Epic on advertising, they also pay for a strong lobbying presence at the Oklahoma Capitol.
“I hope with this information, the OSBI and FBI can conclude their investigations quickly. The Oklahoma families who have put their faith in this school system need reassurance that their children are getting a proper education and not just being used in an illegal scheme to make the owners rich.
“Even after receiving the largest portion of state funds, our public school system has struggled financially in the last decade. I am disgusted that the owners of Epic would knowingly use the public education of Oklahoma’s children to grow their personal wealth while other public schools don’t have the funds to hire additional teachers, buy more books or take care of other classroom needs.
“As a public official and retired educator, I have been a strong advocate of fiscal transparency and accountability, especially when it comes to our public schools and the education of Oklahoma’s children. Bringing to light Epic’s unethical and illegal handling of taxpayer money has been a difficult road.
“My reputation and legislative career have been destroyed by what has now become Oklahoma’s largest school district because I brought their fraudulent activities to light. Their attempt to stop my inquiries and silence my criticism has not been successful.
“I’ve been accused of being against charter schools but I’m not. I dedicated 40 years of my life in the classroom and I know that not all children learn the same so having a virtual option is sometimes what’s best for the child. What I’m against is entities who fraudulently use tax dollars to financially benefit themselves with no concern how it hurts others. Epic Charter Schools has taken millions in much-needed funds away from other public schools who are following state guidelines and law, and I’m glad that they are finally being held accountable.”
For more information, contact: Sen. Sharp: (405) 521-5539 or Ron.Sharp@oksenate.gov