State Superintendent Comments On Epic Charter Schools Investigation

Wednesday, July 17th 2019, 11:47 pm
By: Justin Shrair

Joy Hofmeister has commented on the accusations Epic Charter Schools are facing, including embezzlement of state funds and obtaining money under false pretenses.

She said while her thoughts are with the students and their families, the allegations are serious and disturbing.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said every tax payer's dollar needs to be accounted for.

"If indeed there is any sort of fraud that is something that we need to let the legal process take its course," said Hofmeister.

Hofmeister said while she could not comment directly on the specific alligations, she says virtual education is always evolving.

"The legislature is certainly meeting every year to keep pace with changes in technology and how this is delivered, “ said Hofmeister.

The allegations againsy Epic Charter Schools are laid out in a nearly 10 page search warrant.

An OSBI agent said a teacher told him that she was "told to give home school students credit for doing yard work, participating in extra curricular activities, or just talking to them on the phone."

Documents said that co-founders David Chaney and Ben Harris created a "pay structure that encouraged straw teachers," and that "teachers were paid based on the number of students on their roster." It said teachers who dropped students saw their pay go down.

Parents have been chiming in social media.

Denise Rae wrote that her son used Epic for 10th grade and that she hated it. She said that it took days to get a hold of her son's teacher and when she did, the teachers' response was that she had too many students on her roster.

Kelby Barnes wrote that Epic has been good for her and her children. She said that her child's teacher is amazing and that she has a senior that graduated this year. She said her teacher was responsive and she never had any issues.

A statement from the co-founders of Epic Charter Schools, states:

“We were notified of an investigation in October 2013. We provided information about all of these allegations to the attorney general’s office and the OSBI between 2013 and 2017. More than two years ago, the attorney general’s office determined the evidence did not warrant further investigation, and we believed this to be a closed matter.

“The facts directly contradict the allegations in this affidavit, which have previously been reviewed by state investigators. 

“The only new allegation in the affidavit is demonstrably false; the student who moved out of state was withdrawn from our school on November 8, 2017. According to records provided by the student’s new school, the student was enrolled at a different virtual school in Oregon on Nov. 16, 2017. That student never re-enrolled at EPIC and was never dually enrolled.“

"We will continue to cooperate with investigators, as we have throughout the history of our school. We are confident the facts will once again vindicate our team.

“In the meantime, we will continue to serve the more than 23,000 students and families who have chosen EPIC – even if that makes the status quo education lobby uncomfortable.”


State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said in a Tweet: 

"These allegations are extremely serious, disturbing. ?? stands ready to work w/any criminal investigation to determine if  and taxpayers have been defrauded of millions of dollars. It is important to let the legal system do its work."

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