OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Thursday that he has requested an audit of the state Department of Education.
The request came after an audit last year of Epic Charter Schools revealed that tens of millions of dollars were diverted into a for-profit business controlled by the school system's two founders and its chief financial officer, Stitt said.
Epic officials have denied wrongdoing.
“I promised Oklahomans that as governor I would clean up state government to make it more transparent and accountable, and I am keeping that promise,” Stitt said.
Stitt said he was requesting an audit of all revenue received by the department, including state and federal funds, taxes and fees.
In a statement, state school Superintendent Joy Hofmeister described Stitt's request as “yet another attack on Oklahoma's public education system.”
“At a time during which there are serious audits we have requested which potentially involve criminal activity, and while 541 school districts are struggling to find normalcy during a pandemic, the Governor’s attack on public education couldn’t be worse timing for students, families, teachers and taxpayers,” she said.
Following the audit's release, the state Board of Education demanded that the school repay $11.2 million in state funds that auditors said were used illegally and falsely classified in financial reports.
In November, 22 state lawmakers asked Stitt to seek a full investigative audit of the education department.
Epic Charter Schools has more students than any other school system in the state, with more than 60,000 of them. From 2015 to 2020, it received more than $458 million in state and federal funds.