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Gov. Stitt calls for audit into State Department of Education

Posted at 6:53 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 10:22:27-05

GOV. KEVIN STITT ANNOUNCED PLANS TO BACK 22 STATE LEGISLATORS AND FILE A FORMAL AUDIT INTO THE OKLAHOMA STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. — Gov. Kevin Stitt announced plans to back 22 state legislators and file a formal audit into the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

This, after the state auditor's office released a 120-page report following a year-long investigation into Epic Charter Schools.

"A lot of these things are extremely convoluted," Robert Ruiz, father of an Epic Charters School junior student, said. "As parents, it's hard to track all of these things."

In a statement released to 2 Works for You, Gov. Stitt said:

As governor, I have consistently fought for transparency and accountability across our state government. When Auditor Byrd released her initial report, I made it clear that we expect each Oklahoma student to have access to high quality educational options that are accountable to taxpayers on how their hard-earned dollars are being spent. As we continue to work with the Legislature to invest in public education at the highest levels in our state’s history, it is imperative that these funds are being carefully managed and in compliance with the law. I applaud the 22 legislators who publicly expressed their concerns for being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and will work with them to formally request an investigative audit of the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

A spokesperson with the ODSE told 2 Works for You:

We would be happy to visit with any legislator who would want to better understand the audit findings and Epic's tactics. We are always open to improvement, but we believe this group’s concerns may stem from a misunderstanding of what has occurred as it relates to the audit.

"I think we need to find out why the State Department of Education did not address these things sooner if they were actual issues," Ruiz said. "If this has been a problem for so long, why did no one bring it up sooner?"

Ruiz said the chance for another education investigation makes him wonder if anyone can be trusted to help his son and other students succeed.

"The frustration of parents is growing," Ruiz said. "We have put a lot of trust into these organizations and institutions and really, as parents, it's time we think about our education differently."

Cindy Byrd, the state auditor and inspector, declined to comment on the matter because she "has not received a request from an authorized official to conduct an audit."

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