House of Representatives

Lawmakers Request Investigation of Education Department in Wake of Auditor’s Findings

11/11/2020 2:04:00 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY – A group of lawmakers commented today on the recent report from State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd regarding the investigative audit of EPIC Charter Schools performed at the request of Governor Stitt and called for further action as a result of the findings.


“As lawmakers who have advocated for increased accountability, we take the allegations against EPIC Charter Schools (EPIC) very seriously. If the allegations against EPIC are proven to be accurate, they should be held accountable. While there may be disagreements as to the facts of this case, there can be no debate as to the seriousness of the issues raised by the state auditor. 


“One of the most serious issues contained in the auditor’s report, however, does not deal with EPIC specifically. Throughout the report, the auditor notes the failure of the State Department of Education (SDE) to properly monitor the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System (OCAS) for compliance. Specifically, the state auditor states that SDE has ‘no process in place to evaluate actual compliance with the written policies and procedures, or with applicable laws, statutes, or Administrative Rules.’ The auditor goes on to state that ‘there is virtually no follow-up or on-site review conducted by SDE as it relates to the actual records underlying the data reported.’ 


“If the state auditor is correct in her assessment that the State Department of Education repeatedly neglected its responsibility to ensure compliance with OCAS and other required reports, one must ask if this dereliction of duty was confined solely to EPIC Charter Schools or if it permeates throughout our public education system. If SDE did in fact routinely fail to perform its regulatory duties, this could result in the discovery of hundreds of millions of dollars of misused funds.


“It is the duty of the Legislature to protect taxpayer dollars, and as such we are respectfully requesting that Governor Stitt task the State Auditor and Inspector’s office to conduct an investigative audit of the State Department of Education to determine the full extent and impact of its potential failure to ensure compliance.” 


Legislators issuing the statement include:

Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa

Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid

Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont

Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa

Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola

Rep. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill

Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore

Rep. Garry Mize, R-Guthrie

Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee

Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore

Rep. Rande Worthen, R-Lawton

Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro

Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant

Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow

Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville

Sen. Brent Howard, R-Altus

Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt

Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Broken Arrow

Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore

Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa

Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman

Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City