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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After more than a year of back in forth between EPIC Charter Schools and state auditors, a judge will finally decide if EPIC must release its financial records.
A hearing on the matter has officially been scheduled for December 16-18.
“It’s just simply accountability and making sure we are being good stewards with taxpayer dollars,” State Representative Mickey Dollins told News 4. “If there’s nothing to hide then they should have no problem with releasing that financial information.”
A former teacher, Dollins says he’s not the only one at the capitol concerned about EPIC Charter Schools.
“Other legislatures across the aisle have raised issues and concerns with this, Governor Stitt has called the audit on EPIC charter schools,” Dollins said. “We’re just simply wanting to have those people receiving taxpayer dollar be held accountable.”
That’s where the state and EPIC disagree.
EPIC’s “learning fund” takes in tens of millions in taxpayer dollars. That money covers things such as home technology needs, and extracurricular activities offered by outside vendors. In court documents, EPIC claims the taxpayer funds become “private” once paid to EPIC Youth Services and are not subject to a state audit.
“If any public entity were to get taxpayer dollars, and then say that it was going into a public business,” Dollins said. “They could hide it and that would create a whole bunch of issues going forward.”
In a statement released to News 4 on Wednesday, Officials with EPIC say…
“EPIC Charter Schools has provided every school record requested by the State Auditor and all school funds have been accounted for. Our school is fully compliant with the state audit and we are very confident it will show that EPIC follows the law.
The issue in the legal matter is whether the State Auditor has the power to audit private companies. Nothing in state law or the state Constitution provides for this. Like all public schools do, EPIC contracts with private companies to provide goods and services, and private companies reject the idea the State Auditor can audit them simply because a public school pays them for goods and services. However, the private management company that EPIC contracts with has offered to make its records available to the State Auditor for review, so long as the Auditor does not publish its private records.”
Shelly Hickman, M.Ed.
Assistant Superintendent, Communications
Epic Charter Schools