EPIC Board Hears Update, Approves New Member

by Deborah Horn

The board of education that oversees EPIC Charter Schools met for the first time this year. The board is scheduled to meet once a month during 2021.

The board approved the resignation of long-time board member Mike Cantrell. In an editorial published in The Oklahoman, Cantrell said he was stepping down due to personal health issues.  He has reiterated his support for the school and the work it does for students in Oklahoma.

During Monday’s meeting the board approved John Franklin to fill the vacant seat left by Cantrell’s resignation.

Ben Harris, co-founder of EPIC Charter Schools, presented the report of activities involving the school’s management organization, EPIC Youth Services.  He told the board they are currently watching legislation that could impact education and the school.  Harris said of the approximately 3,000 bills submitted in the House and Senate only 275 relate to education.  Harris promised a more comprehensive review of the bills that could impact EPIC by the February board meeting.

The school’s internal auditor Linda Ladd updated the board both in the open meeting and in executive session on the status of the school’s response to the state audit.  The State Board of Education started its 60-day clock on its demand EPIC repay more than $11 million because of the audit’s allegations the district spent too much on administration.  Ladd has previously told the board her review found numerous mistakes in the auditor’s work that resulted in an over exaggeration of administrative expenses.

According to the board’s attorney, Bill Hickman, the school is beginning depositions this week with the former head of the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board (SVCSB), John Harrington.  Harrington led the charge to initiate termination proceedings against the school’s contract with the SVCSB.

EPIC’s next board meeting is scheduled for February 17, 2021.

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