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Epic Charter Schools Severs Ties With Co-Founders

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Epic Charter Schools announced a complete governance overhaul late Wednesday.

The state's largest school district will sever all ties with its founders' management company Epic Youth Services (EYS). It will no longer have a relationship with David Chaney and Ben Harris as of July 1.

"Severing ties with EYS will result in tens of millions of dollars in savings and the school will be taking a significant leap forward in technology during the next 18 months for students, parents and teachers," newly-elected board chair Paul Campbell said. "Moreover, this Board is not open to contracting with an education management organization ever again, much less a for-profit company. Every dollar lost to a company like that is a dollar not invested in students. This school’s bottom line is educating and empowering students. Not turning a profit."

After Chaney and Harris referred to the action as a "pause," Campbell fired back.

"This relationship is done as long as this board is in place," Campbell said. "This is not a pause of a relationship and I want to be clear about that."

Also in Wednesday's meeting, the board accepted the resignations of three board members — Betsy Brown, Doug Scott and J.P. Franklin. It also expanded the board to six members by electing four new officers — Campbell, Jon Tatum, Danny Williams Sr. and Ginger Casper.

Epic's founders have been under criminal investigation for almost two years for their actions while managing the school.

Earlier this month, Oklahoma's multicounty grand jury issued a report saying their company was "ripe for fraud." That comes after a state auditor's report found they'd been funneling state money into the founders pockets, misreporting administrative costs to avoid millions in penalties and refusing to cooperate with state officials.

The school board also voted to compel the founders' company to pay its tens of millions of dollars worth of fines to the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

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Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
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