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Amid massive enrollment drop, Epic Charter Schools begins to lay off employees

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, students left Oklahoma public schools and flocked to the state's virtual charter behemoth.

Epic Charter Schools' enrollment grew to more than 60,000 students, and its growth accounted for roughly 13 percent of charter school growth nationally.

But this fall, they're flocking away, as many students returned to traditional in-school instruction and away from remote learning.

Epic announced in a letter to parents, faculty and students on Tuesday that it would lay off staff due to a massive drop in enrollment.

Epic currently employs nearly 2,000 people. It's unclear how many of those will be affected, but the so-called "right-sizing" will continue this month.

Superintendent Bart Banfield wrote that three out of five Epic students — more than 30,000 — have left the district.

"We simply do not need and cannot afford to be staffed for 61,000 kids, when our enrollment has begun to even out post-pandemic," Banfield said.

The school — which has found itself at the center of several scandals — has severed ties with its for-profit management company and remade its board. Those moves come after a scathing audit that found the district misused millions of public dollars.

Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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