State education board demands $11.2 million back from Epic Charter Schools over state audit findings | Education

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Holt began her presentation by setting the record straight on two issues she said have been commonly mischaracterized in public discourse since the release of the state audit report a couple of weeks ago.

She said Gov. Kevin Stitt’s charge to State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd included the task of reviewing annual audits on Epic from the previous three years, but it did not limit the scope of the forensic audit as a whole to any such time period.

In all, $125.2 million of the $458 million allocated to Epic Charter Schools for educating students the past six years was found to have ended up in the coffers of Epic Youth Services, a for-profit charter school management company that has reportedly made millionaires of school co-founders Ben Harris and David Chaney.

“We ask for annual appropriations totaling approximately $3 billion and $125 million works out to about 4.1%,” said state board member Kurt Bollenbach, of Kingfisher. “Are you saying I do not have access to or oversight of 4.1% of the funds that come through this department?“

Holt responded: “Yes.”

Holt described how Epic and its affiliates armed themselves with lawyers to make the state auditors’ task of interviewing school personnel and scrutinizing records particularly difficult.

So difficult in fact that 63% of the funds turned over to EYS — nearly $80 million budgeted for students’ learning needs — remains out of reach of the State Auditor’s Office and outside public scrutiny.

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State education board calls special meeting on Epic Charter Schools audit | Education

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Byrd’s office found that Epic exceeded the state’s 5% state cap on administrative overhead costs intended to ensure public schools direct most resources on students “year after year.”

The state auditor’s report cites “questionable classification and reporting of administrative costs” between FY 2017 and FY 2019 totaling $16.6 million for Epic One-on-One, a statewide virtual charter school, and $6.7 million for Epic Blended Learning Centers, which offer students in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties a blend of at-home and classroom-based studies.

And a $530,000 penalty imposed by the state school board in February, while significant, represented a fraction of what the state auditor said she has documented proof that Epic actually owes for underreported administrative payroll costs the past six fiscal years: $8.9 million.

Byrd previously called the penalty “a slap on the wrist.”

Her report says had Epic Charter Schools been assessed full penalties by the state, Chaney and Harris’ company called Epic Youth Services would reportedly have collected at least $837,000 less in management fees.

The state audit team also found in 2016, Epic Charter Schools “inaccurately reclassified administrative costs,” thus avoiding a $2.6 million penalty for exceeding Oklahoma’s limit on administrative costs.

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Cleveland radio legend Jeff Kinzbach calls it a career after epic 50-year on-air run

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — One day.

Jeff Kinzbach standing in front of a computer: "It was just great to be part of it," says Jeff Kinzbach of his nearly 50-year career in Cleveland radio. "I can't thank everybody enough. I've met so many great people, and had so many great experiences. I'm very fortunate."

© Robert E. Dorksen / The Plain Dealer/cleveland.com/TNS
“It was just great to be part of it,” says Jeff Kinzbach of his nearly 50-year career in Cleveland radio. “I can’t thank everybody enough. I’ve met so many great people, and had so many great experiences. I’m very fortunate.”

That’s how long Jeff Kinzbach says it took him to get used to not having to wake up at 4 a.m. after hosting morning radio for 30 years. The legendary disc jockey called it a career on September 30 after spending parts of six decades on the local airwaves.

a group of people posing for a photo: Jeff Kinzbach, left, and Ed "Flash" Ferenc of Cleveland's WMMS 100.7 in February, 1978.

© Robert E. Dorksen/Cleveland Plain Dealer/cleveland.com/TNS
Jeff Kinzbach, left, and Ed “Flash” Ferenc of Cleveland’s WMMS 100.7 in February, 1978.

“It’s a funny feeling,” Kinzbach says one week into his retirement. “But as every day goes on, you kind of pause for a second and say to yourself, ‘Wow, I don’t have to work. I don’t have to get up in the morning.’ That’s a damn good feeling.”

Kinzbach worked mornings on Akron’s 97.5 WONE since 2013 but is best known for hosting “The Buzzard Morning Zoo” with Ed “Flash” Ferenc on 100.7 WMMS from 1976-1994. He and his wife Patti are planning to literally ride off into the sunset by traveling the country in their recently purchased RV.

“We just started to realize that we really should retire and do a lot of the things that we want to do now because you just never know how long you have,” he says. “There’s a lot on my bucket list, from Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon and all the points in between. The radio business isn’t what it used to be. It’s not fun as it used to be. It was still very satisfying for me, but