Epic Charter Schools Proposes Increased Transparency To State Board Ahead Of Termination Hearing

Wednesday, April 14th 2021, 10:25 pm
By: Barry Mangold

The governing board for Epic Charter Schools voted early Wednesday to offer a settlement to the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board one month before a termination hearing. 

“What we’re doing right now is expressing our determination to do what we told the public, our staff, and our parents that we would do, which is cooperate with our authorizer,” said Shelly Hickman, Epic Assistant Superintendent told News 9 Wednesday. 

In the proposed agreement, Epic would make purchasing records of the controversial Learning Fund public. The fund is maintained by Epic Youth Services, a private company that manages Epic Charter Schools. 

According to an October state audit, the Learning Fund received nearly $80 million in public funds from 2015 to 2020.

State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd said Epic was secretive when asked to disclose documents from the learning fund. The report said the documents provided by Epic on the oversight of payments from the Learning Fund were “virtually non-existent.” 

Epic maintains it did not commit any wrongdoing. Hickman said the agreement is a sign they are ready to work with the SVCSB to “strengthen” the school. 

“For us, it’s going to cost us a little bit more as a school to operate (the Learning Fund) the way that some of the government regulators would like to see it operated. But we’re going to do that. We’re committed to bringing it all over to the public side,” Hickman said. 

Epic, in the agreement, also agreed to make sure only public employees have access to public funds and that its management company does not have access to the Learning Fund. 

Read the full proposed agreement below. 

The SVCSB, which authorizes and oversees all statewide virtual charter schools, will consider whether to terminate Epic’s operating contract after a two-day hearing on May 12 and 13. Last week the board denied Epic’s attempt to dismiss the hearing

Board chairman Dr. Robert Franklin said the SVCSB is reviewing the agreement. 

“It’s encouraging that they have acknowledged, as a board, that there are matter that they needed to address to move forward for the sake of the school and those students and those families,” Franklin said.