TULSA - In a letter sent to State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt Friday requested her office conduct an audit of “Epic Charter School and all related entities.”
The letter goes on to state that “The scope of the audit should include a three year look back on all previously issued audits, as well as any federal audits done during that same period.”
According to public records, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has launched investigations into possible fraud involving the enrollment of “ghost students” and the use of “straw teachers” by the virtual school.
Additional reporting by the Tulsa World has also uncovered records which indicate the FBI has an investigation underway as well.
Epic has denied any wrongdoing.
“They have to follow the rules, there's obviously a funding formula, and we're going to get to the bottom of it, and we're going to find out if these accusations are true, and if they're true they'll be punished, and we're going to fix it,” Gov. Stitt told KRMG Friday.
“It could take weeks to get it done. I didn't give her (Byrd) a timeline, but I said 'it's of the utmost importance to really dig in, and we need to, you know, verify these allegations.'”
State Superintendent Dr. Joy Hofmeister also spoke with KRMG Friday, and said she fully supports the governor's decision to call for an audit.
“These are serious and disturbing allegations,” she said. “I think it is very important to always have transparency and accountability any time we are using, or entrusted with, taxpayer dollars.”
Shelly Hickman, assistant superintendent of communications for Epic Charter Schools, issued a statement via Twitter saying the organization “will fully cooperate,” and that “we welcome this as an opportunity to once again prove to the public that our school follows the law in our service to the Oklahoma public school children and Oklahoma families we serve.”