Virtual charter schools are a disaster for students, but a honey pot for their operators—that is, until they get caught and face the music and possible jail time.

John Thompson describes the epic fail of the EPIC virtual charter in Oklahoma. 

Ghost students, straw teachers, parent bonuses. What a scam.

An Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation revealed that the co-founders of the state’s largest virtual charter school system, Epic Charter Schools, David Chaney and Ben Harris, split at least $10 million in profits from 2013 to 2018. They allegedly recruited “ghost students” (who were technically enrolled but received minimal instruction from teachers) from homeschools and sectarian private schools “for the purpose of unlawfully diverting State Appropriated Funds to their own personal use resulting in high NFAY [not full academic year] rates and low graduation rates for the students.” 

Epic established an $800-to-$1000-per-student learning fund for students who did not enroll in a public school. These students were dubbed “members of the $800 club,” and assigned to “straw teachers,” who “would receive additional pay in the form of bonuses which included student retention goals,” while “those who dropped students would see a decrease in pay.”

A search warrant cited parents who received money but admitted they had no intention of receiving instruction from Epic. One family withdrew its ten children from public schools,  received $8000, and allowed the kids to ride horses instead of attending school. 

Does anyone have a link to Betsy DeVos’ Senate confirmation hearings when she rattled off the impressive but false statistics about virtual charter schools? It turns out they are the quintessential fraudsters of the Disruption Movement.