StateImpact Oklahoma

StateImpact Oklahoma is a collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU. Jackie Fortier and Quinton Chandler travel the state to report on energy and the environment, education, health, and criminal justice — and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans.

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From TV and radio ads to advertisements on and radio to the steady flow of news stories, it has been difficult to ignore Epic Charter Schools lately. With multiple ongoing investigations into the school’s finances and enrollment, here is a comprehensive look at what has transpired and what it could mean for future state policy.

Why Is Epic Under Investigation?

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

At eight-years-old David Hall was taken from his mother’s house in Canadian County and placed into foster care. He had been abused most of his life and was struggling with PTSD.

Hall says he didn’t talk about being abused, he assumed it was normal.

“That’s not really something you talk about at school. When I was a kid, I talked about Scooby-Doo and things like that,” Hall said.

Chris Landsberger / Pool

An Oklahoma judge has ruled that drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped ignite the state’s opioid crisis by deceptively marketing painkillers, and must pay $572 million to the state.

Caroline Halter / StateImpact Oklahoma

Sovereign Community School is new charter school in Oklahoma City with a focus on Native American culture and identity. It’s also part of a movement of tribes and tribal citizens using publicly funded, privately run schools to take control over the education of Native children.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

The ongoing court case against opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson highlighted the role that doctors, and the medical boards who regulate them, have played in the continuing public health crisis. 

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

In 2016, Oklahoma voters passed two state questions intended to reduce the state’s prison population. Every year since, lawmakers have introduced bills designed to help decrease the number of people serving time.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma investigators believe Epic Charter Schools embezzled money by inflating its enrollment with homeschool and private school students. Because of the state’s dedication to privacy, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister says the alleged abuse would not have been preventable under current state law.

Melissa Lau is preparing for the coming school year. She teaches 6th grade science in Piedmont, just northwest of Oklahoma City. Inside her classroom, she’s laid out over thirty cross sections from the trunks of red cedar trees. Each ring represents one year of growth. Lau calls them “tree cookies.”

Chris Landsberger / The Oklahoman

The federal government is seeking its slice of Oklahoma’s recent $270 million settlement with Purdue Pharmaceuticals, and the bill could be millions of dollars.

Claire Donnelly / StateImpact Oklahoma

Nearly all Oklahoma residents – about 93 percent – live within 20 miles of a flood control dam, according to the Oklahoma Conservation Commission.

The state has the largest number of watershed dams in the country.

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