EPIC speaks out

In the Oct. 21 issue of the Muskogee Phoenix, your publication took the editorial position that the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board should vote to terminate its contract with EPIC Charter Schools. I was surprised that you believe our contract should be terminated without the due process afforded to us under the law. After all, only one side of the story has been heard so far. Audit work papers have yet to be produced and EPIC has not been allowed yet to share its rebuttal to the findings - which did not include one finding of criminal wrongdoing.

Muskogee County is home to 912 EPIC students and 30 staff members. Those numbers represent 942 families who pay taxes, engage with local businesses and worry about how best to provide a quality education for their learners in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s the same in every county in Oklahoma right now. The families who have come to EPIC did so because they felt we were the right choice for them, whatever the reason.

That is not to suggest journalists ignore a state audit. But before engaging in a rush to judgment, shouldn’t the school I lead be able to defend itself and have the opportunity to prove the findings false?

If you watched EPIC’s School Board meeting last week, you saw a point-by-point response to the key topics of the state auditor’s findings. You also would’ve seen the board take strong corrective action to correct some of the practices the auditor suggested should be improved. These corrective actions included but were not limited to the board meeting monthly instead of quarterly and hiring someone to manage the school’s finances who is not also employed by the charter management organization with which EPIC contracts. The meeting I reference was held on the same day you published your editorial and can be seen in full at https://www.facebook.com/epiccharterschools/videos/349512796314841. I hope your editors and readers will watch it.

EPIC is committed to constant improvement for its more than 2,100 employees and more than 60,000 students and their families. That has not changed and will continue to be the driving force of our school.

The future of EPIC in the 75 counties that aren’t Tulsa or Oklahoma counties now shifts from the political arena, where there have been conflicted forces at play, to the legal arena, where fairness and facts will drive the process. We embrace this due process and the opportunity to show that the audit is not indicative of our operations. We respectfully ask you and your readers to reserve final judgement and to realize that politics should not disregard the choices of so many families. 

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