State Department Of Education Releases Investigative Report Of Epic Charter Schools

Tuesday, June 21st 2022, 12:32 pm


The Oklahoma State Department of Education will release the findings of its investigation into Epic Charter Schools after a former board member alleged intimidation and harassment taking place inside the administration. 

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and other OSDE officials will present the findings at 2 p.m. Tuesday. 

The department launched the investigation in December not “allegations of fraud, suppression of fraud, intimidation and harassment in the workplace, as well as alleged violations of the Open Meetings Act,” according to a notice of complaint OSDE sent to Epic Charter Schools Superintendent Bart Banfield.   

Related: OSDE Investigates Complaints Against Epic Charter Schools

Former board member Kathryn Stehno told the OSDE that multiple employees complained to her about alleged intimidation and harassment by Paul Campbell, the chair of Epic’s board. 

Below is an excerpt of Stehno’s resignation letter.

“According to these women, they have been yelled at, berated, subject to profane comments and implied threats to their employment. All described an often-hostile work environment. These women expressed fear of retaliation in making their complaints public, especially since they indicate Superintendent Banfield was well aware and perhaps also complicit.” 

News 9 contacted Campbell and Epic Charter Schools Tuesday morning for comment. 

A 2020 audit by the Oklahoma Auditor & Inspector, Cindy Byrd, found millions in public funding sent to Epic were ultimately spent on the school’s California branch, and that the school exceeded the administrative cost cap. As a result of the audit, the state has withheld $20 million from Epic Charter Schools, according to Byrd's office.

Related: Oklahoma To Withhold $9.1 Million From Epic Charter Schools For Improper Spending

Byrd’s office said Tuesday it is still auditing the Student Learning Fund, which is managed by Epic’s parent company: Community Strategies Inc. The fund has received $145 million in taxpayer dollars since 2015. 

This article will be updated. News 9’s Barry Mangold will have more tonight on News 9 at 5 p.m. and News On 6 at 6 p.m.