State education board demands $11.2 million back from Epic Charter Schools over state audit findings | Education

Holt began her presentation by setting the record straight on two issues she said have been commonly mischaracterized in public discourse since the release of the state audit report a couple of weeks ago.

She said Gov. Kevin Stitt’s charge to State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd included the task of reviewing annual audits on Epic from the previous three years, but it did not limit the scope of the forensic audit as a whole to any such time period.

In all, $125.2 million of the $458 million allocated to Epic Charter Schools for educating students the past six years was found to have ended up in the coffers of Epic Youth Services, a for-profit charter school management company that has reportedly made millionaires of school co-founders Ben Harris and David Chaney.

“We ask for annual appropriations totaling approximately $3 billion and $125 million works out to about 4.1%,” said

Read More

State education board calls special meeting on Epic Charter Schools audit | Education

Byrd’s office found that Epic exceeded the state’s 5% state cap on administrative overhead costs intended to ensure public schools direct most resources on students “year after year.”

The state auditor’s report cites “questionable classification and reporting of administrative costs” between FY 2017 and FY 2019 totaling $16.6 million for Epic One-on-One, a statewide virtual charter school, and $6.7 million for Epic Blended Learning Centers, which offer students in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties a blend of at-home and classroom-based studies.

And a $530,000 penalty imposed by the state school board in February, while significant, represented a fraction of what the state auditor said she has documented proof that Epic actually owes for underreported administrative payroll costs the past six fiscal years: $8.9 million.

Byrd previously called the penalty “a slap on the wrist.”

Her report says had Epic Charter Schools been assessed full penalties by the state, Chaney and Harris’

Read More

Greenwich school board weighs in on audit of special education services

GREENWICH — The independence of a new audit of special education services in the Greenwich Public Schools is among the most important facets of the review, several Board of Education members said Tuesday.

The school board heard an update on the $98,000 audit, which will officially begin this month, at its Tuesday meeting. The audit is an attempt to examine complaints from parents about the district’s special education services going back decades.

“I, for one, am glad this is finally starting,” Board of Education Chair Peter Bernstein said. “I think we’ve been talking about it for about three years, so it’s good to see it finally moving forward. One of the concerns I have and I will continue to have is about the independence.”

Board member Peter Sherr drove home the point of acting independently.

“This project is really an audit of special education districtwide,” Sherr said. “I’m not familiar

Read More

Greenwich school board to receive audit update on special education

GREENWICH — A new audit of the special education services in the Greenwich Public Schools is underway, with a scheduled end date of June 2021.

At its Tuesday special meeting, the Board of Education will receive an update on the project, which started last month.

The Board of Education and the Greenwich Public Schools hired Public Consulting Group to conduct the audit at a cost of $98,000, a $30,000 increase on the original contract, which was recently amended. The project’s scope, after a request from Superintendent of Schools Toni Jones and the school board, has been widened to include a study of the creation of Individualized Education Plans for individual students and community feedback.

PCG comes to the project after parents and board members expressed concerns over the district’s original choice of an auditor, Tennessee-based education consultant Key2Ed. Detractors questioned the validity of the selection, noting that Key2Ed already had

Read More