Lawmakers Want Investigation of Ed Department after Audit

Mike Seals - November 11, 2020 11:43 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – A group of lawmakers commented today on the recent report from State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd regarding the investigative audit of EPIC Charter Schools performed at the request of Governor Stitt and called for further action as a result of the findings.

“As lawmakers who have advocated for increased accountability, we take the allegations against EPIC Charter Schools (EPIC) very seriously. If the allegations against EPIC are proven to be accurate, they should be held accountable. While there may be disagreements as to the facts of this case, there can be no debate as to the seriousness of the issues raised by the state auditor.

“One of the most serious issues contained in the auditor’s report, however, does not deal with EPIC specifically. Throughout the report, the auditor notes the failure of the State Department of Education (SDE) to properly monitor the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System (OCAS) for compliance. Specifically, the state auditor states that SDE has ‘no process in place to evaluate actual compliance with the written policies and procedures, or with applicable laws, statutes, or Administrative Rules.’ The auditor goes on to state that ‘there is virtually no follow-up or on-site review conducted by SDE as it relates to the actual records underlying the data reported.’

“If the state auditor is correct in her assessment that the State Department of Education repeatedly neglected its responsibility to ensure compliance with OCAS and other required reports, one must ask if this dereliction of duty was confined solely to EPIC Charter Schools or if it permeates throughout our public education system. If SDE did in fact routinely fail to perform its regulatory duties, this could result in the discovery of hundreds of millions of dollars of misused funds.

“It is the duty of the Legislature to protect taxpayer dollars, and as such we are respectfully requesting that Governor Stitt task the State Auditor and Inspector’s office to conduct an investigative audit of the State Department of Education to determine the full extent and impact of its potential failure to ensure compliance.”

Legislators issuing the statement include:
Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa
Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid
Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont
Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa
Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola
Rep. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill
Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore
Rep. Garry Mize, R-Guthrie
Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee
Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore
Rep. Rande Worthen, R-Lawton
Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro
Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant
Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow
Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville
Sen. Brent Howard, R-Altus
Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt
Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Broken Arrow
Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore
Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa
Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman
Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City


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