TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation is looking into embezzlement allegations against Epic Charter Schools.
OSBI is accusing Epic Charter Schools -- the state's largest charter school -- of embezzling $10 million over the course of five years by inflating enrollment counts using "ghost students."
Investigators served a search warrant in Oklahoma City on Tuesday at the home of an Epic employee and seized a laptop and iPhone.
According to the OSBI affidavit, Epic founders Ben Harris and David Chaney devised a scheme to illegally take profits from state funds. The affidavit says over five years, Harris and Chaney received $10 million in profits from Epic Youth Services -- the for-profit company that manages the virtual charter school.
Epic Charter Schools received $41 million in education funds in 2017 and is set to receive $112 million this year.
The OSBI says they found several students were counted in the school's enrollment numbers but were either homeschooled, in private schools, or received little-to-no instruction from Epic.
Governor Kevin Stitt and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister called for an investigative audit of Epic Charter School and all related entities in a letter submitted by Gov. Stitt to State Auditor Cindy Byrd Friday. The audit request will involve a three-year look back on all previously issued audits of Epic, to include any federal audits.
Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister called the allegations "serious" and "disturbing" on Twitter Tuesday night.
Hofmeister released the following statement:
In a statement, Epic Charter Schools Assistant Superintendant of Communications Shelly Hickman said the following:
Epic was also investigated for fraud in 2013 but no charges were filed.
Epic Charter Schools has office locations in Norman and Tulsa.
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