State Rep. Dills Sees Strong Chance Of Revamping Charter School Management

Thursday, March 3rd 2022, 8:32 pm


Laws to more closely regulate charter schools are getting a hard look this legislative session. 

Two bills seek to tighten up loopholes in the way charter schools work with their sponsors and for-profit educational management organizations. 

State Representative Sheila Dills of Tulsa said some important conversations in the past year brought stakeholders to the table as they were working on this piece of legislation, ensuring support for it this session. 

House Bill 3643 will increase transparency in the relationship between charter schools and for-profit management groups. 

“It really protects taxpayers, and it protects students, making sure that the money that we appropriate is going to their education and not into the pockets of the owners of those for-profit educational management companies,” Dills said.

House Bill 3644 creates a minimum performance framework that charter schools have to abide by. Sponsors will use the framework to evaluate the school, board training, contract reviews and more.

“Just a lot of different things that we think will really tie up the loose ends in our law, particularly defining the difference between public and private funds. and it gives the state the ability to ‘follow the money,’ so to speak,” Dills said. 

This comes after stunning findings by the state auditor’s audit of Epic Charter Schools and their former managers Epic Youth Services.

The charter was required to return a total of $20 million in misspent public dollars to the state and is accused of hiding “excessive administration costs.”

Representative Dills said the new laws were drawn up with the support of dozens of stakeholders, including the new managers of Epic Charter Schools, who want to see innovation in charter schools thrive.

“Just folks coming to the table on several occasions and talking about the issues, and they really had not come together,” Dills said. “We want charter schools to succeed. We want all schools to succeed in Oklahoma, but there has to be appropriate safeguards and accountability measures.”

You can read House Bills 3643 and 3644 below.


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