The Company which provides management services to Epic Virtual Charter Schools is aggressively fighting a 'fishing trip' initiated by the State Auditor's office. Although the innovative organization has come out clean in every audit conducted over the past 9 years, Auditor Cindy Byrd is now auditing the companies which provide various support services.
Byrd (sworn in to her first term just 15 months ago) appears to be claiming that she has the authority to investigate any bank account and corporate ledger of any shop or service provider who even unwittingly receives a public dollar. The position they are taking is that if a dollar starts as a public dollar, it remains a public dollar even after being paid to a private company for goods or services and as such is subject to State Audit. This makes every employee's personal and household finances essentially an open record, as well.
A couple media outlets inaccurately claimed that Governor Stitt called for yet another new audit of the Epic Charter Schools. But the actual language of the order was directing Byrd to review all her previous Epic audits to see if there was anything missed.
It appears that Byrd is now deciding that the most efficient school district in the state (Epic's budget commits 80% of funding to direct 'classroom instruction') is needing another round of audits. In contrast, Tulsa Public Schools has not been thoroughly audited in ages, yet only commits about 50% of funding to direct classroom instruction. And Tulsa Public Schools are now more than $20 million in budget shortfall. Evidently Byrd can't see any problem there?
It's clear to many voters that Auditor Byrd is launching into not only a redundant & wasteful expenditure of her agency's funds, but she's also going 'full Orwell', to declare a right of access to what's in private wallets, ledgers, and budgeting of private companies & individuals.
For their part, the Epic Youth Services founders are taking up this as a violation of 4th amendment rights. An invasion of privacy without even a reported crime or probable cause. No warrant was ever sought by the state auditor.
Now, the State Attorney General is also going after the power grab, to begin an endless practice of auditing any company which has any fiduciary history with any state, county, municipal, or public education entity.
We expect all corporate legal staffs to be on alert and ready to fight the orwellian mindset of 2 statewide elected officials who are way outside the US Constitution.
Epic has been completely proactive and cooperative with every audit, up to now. This passive-aggressive behavior of the new state auditor is troubling to every one of us citizens who voted for her. And any attorney, much less attorney general, who would support this orwellian policy, is equally terrifying.
"The State Auditor's legal position - that private businesses are subject to state audit - should concern every business owner in Oklahoma.
Epic Youth Services has offered to voluntarily allow the auditor to review records appropriate to their request, but we have received no response prior to this court filing.
We will vigorously fight for the protection that has historically been provided to private businesses like Epic Youth Services."