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Politics

Gov. Kevin Stitt Requests Audit Of Oklahoma's Education Department

hoffmeister_and_stitt.jpeg
Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma
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Gov. Kevin Stitt is calling on the State Auditor Cindy Byrd to investigate the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

In a news release, Stitt says he has concerns about accountability systems within Oklahoma’s State Department of Education, specifically issues identified by Byrd in her audit of Epic Charter Schools released almost a year ago. That audit found millions of dollars of financial mismanagement by Oklahoma’s largest public school district.

A group of Republican lawmakers called for the audit in November after Byrd's report on Epic.

Byrd found that the state department has “no process in place to evaluate actual compliance with the written policies and procedures,” in her report.

Byrd says the scope and scale of the audit request is unprecedented.

"This type of audit has never been conducted in the history of Oklahoma and, perhaps, the nation," Byrd said.

It’s unclear when it will be completed.

State schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister responded to Stitt, calling his audit request an attack on her agency and public education more broadly. She pointed to more than 20 financial, compliance and programmatic review audits by Byrd's office in the last 6 and a half years as evidence that his request is unnecessary.

"At a time during which there are serious audits we have requested which potentially involve criminal activity, and while 541 school districts are struggling to find normalcy during a pandemic, the Governor's attack on public education couldn't be worse timing for students, families, teachers and taxpayers," Hofmeister said.

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