EPIC Charter Schools filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma Senator Ron Sharp for allegations of defamation.
According to a press release, the lawsuit was filed against Sharp in Oklahoma County District Court on Dec. 9.
On Oct. 19, at a public meeting of the board, the board made this public statement:
“Because Mr. Sharp knowingly and intentionally published false statements about our school that he has refused to retract, as a board, we feel no option exists other than defending our school, staff and the families we serve from malicious defamation. Just because an individual is elected to the Oklahoma State Legislature, does not make them above the law.”
In the fall, when the Legislature was not in session and outside of any governmental meetings, Sharp defamed EPIC, the press release states. Sharp used personal email addresses to receive and send communication related to defaming EPIC.
“We are the party that has been injured,” Superintendent Bart Banfield said “We have never taken any action to defame Mr. Sharp, and a seven-year investigation of our school with no criminal findings, along with 43 clean audits in three years, has nothing to do with Mr. Sharp knowingly lying about EPIC and breaking the law when he did it.”
“Just because he happens to be a member of the Oklahoma State Legislature does not give him a license to lie anytime, anywhere, and for no other purpose than to use power to bully and harm those with differing beliefs.”
Banfield went on to say EPIC's employees, students, and families deserve to be defended and protected, the press release states.
The board and Banfield said they anticipate Sharp will try to deflect the attention away from what he did by alleging he is being intimidated and pointing to the state investigation of the school, according to the press release.
In the press release, Banfield said he would recommend the Board to withdraw the lawsuit should Ron Sharp retract the false statements that he made and knew were false when he made them.
Until then, Banfield said, "EPIC staff were inspired by the school board’s decision to protect them, their students and families, and to allow the truth to prevail."
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