State Auditor's Newsletter

Investigative Audit of Epic Charter Schools Raises Concerns for Every Oklahoma Taxpayer, State Auditor Says

Epic Charter Schools logo graphic

OKLAHOMA CITY - State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd released today Part One of a two-part Investigative Audit of Epic Charter Schools and related entities.

The special audit was ordered by Governor Kevin Stitt in July 2019.

The more than 100-page report, for audit years FY2015-FY2020, found that Epic Charter Schools designed an administrative system inconsistent with the Oklahoma Charter School Act and its charter agreements.

There are 21 findings from the year-long audit, including:

  • Epic spent almost $3 million on advertising in three months to recruit new students
  • Epic has paid almost $80 million into the Student Learning Fund which is managed by founders Ben Harris and David Chaney 
  • The Student Learning Fund has never been independently audited and the release of its financial records to the State Auditor is currently in litigation 
  • The State of California has confirmed Epic Charter Schools' Charter Management Organization, Epic Youth Services (EYS), used $203,000 from the Student Learning Fund - money dedicated for educating Oklahoma children - to help with start-up expenses for Epic-California (Epic-CA) 
  • Epic's founders used Oklahoma school personnel to operate its California counterpart including $210,000 to develop Epic-CA and these funds were only repaid after the State Auditor discovered the transfer and made inquiries into the expenditure 
  • Harris and Chaney pledged credit from Epic Charter Schools (Oklahoma) bank accounts as collateral to obtain a half-million dollar loan to run their for-profit venture in California 
  • Epic Charter Schools underreported administrative costs above the statutory five percent cap last year and was required to repay the state a half-million dollars 
  • During the audit period, SAI calculates that Epic exceeded the administrative cost cap by $8.9 million 
  • The audit identified $6 million in fund transfers between Epic school districts without board approval 
  • One Epic district loaned another Epic district $3.3 million without board approval