Former Teachers File Lawsuits Against Epic Charter Schools
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma - Two former Epic teachers from Green Country are suing the charter school.
Noelle Waller and Shauna Atchley filed separate, but similar lawsuits against Epic Charter Schools.
In the lawsuits, the women claim they were fired because they wouldn't change enrollment numbers and scores.
The lawsuit says Epic has a bonus system where teachers, principals and some administrators get bonuses when students meet certain benchmarks for scores, retention, attendance and moving to next grade.
Waller’s suit says she taught for Epic in Pawnee County for nearly five years.
The lawsuit claims Waller's supervisors pressured her to eliminate students who weren't performing well.
The lawsuit says Epic used a color coding system for student test scores—red for students who tested poorly, yellow for students who could improve and green for student who tested well. The suit says Epic teachers were told to ensure their red students were compliant with truancy standards.
The lawsuit alleges the truancy standards were lax for yellow and green students, but rigorously applied to red students. The suit says Waller’s supervisor told her to eliminate students from her rolls who weren’t compliant with truancy standards. It says those were always red students. The suit also claims the pressure always increased as state testing neared.
The suit says Waller initially complied, but then started to push back and would no longer remove students from her rolls who tested poorly.
Her lawsuit claims Epic fired her because her students score lower than others during state testing. The suit says Epic timed Waller's termination so she could not get her bonus.
Shauna Atchley taught in Pryor for one year.
Her lawsuit claims she was pressured to pass a failing student. It also says she pushed back when asked to manipulate her student roster by removing low-performing students -- for the sole purpose of maximizing bonuses.
The lawsuit claims Epic notified her by email that she was being let go for "performance issues."
Both women are seeking in damages in excess of $75,000.
Epic's Assistant Superintendent of Communications Shelly Hickman told The Oklahoman it had not been served with the lawsuits.
"However, These are disgruntled former employees hoping to profit from what they perceive to be the issue of the day,” Hickman said in a state to The Oklahoman. “I cannot comment about personnel issues, but I can tell you that these employees are no longer employed with us, and for good reason."
OSBI launched an investigation into Epic Charter Schools in early 2019 after Epic was accused of inflating enrollment numbers to get more state funds.
Epic denies those claims.
Epic issued the following statement from Assistant Superintendent Shelly Hickman:
"We have not been served with any lawsuit. However these are disgruntled former employees hoping to profit from what they perceive to be the issue of the day. I cannot comment about personnel issues, but I can tell you that these employees are no longer employed with us, and for good reason.”