There is not much to admire in Oklahoma’s penurious funding of its public schools. But there is one admirable law on the books. Schools are not permitted to spend excessive amounts on administrative overhead. And when they do, they are penalized.

Epic One on One virtual charter school has been penalized more than $530,000 for exceeding the state limit on administrative spending, a limit imposed by state statute meant to keep the bulk of state education funding in the classroom. 

Epic’s superintendent, Bart Banfield, was notified of the penalty last month, according to an email obtained by The Frontier through an open records request. 

The total penalty of $530,527.20 is based on Epic exceeding the allowable limits on administrative expenditures by 5.58 percent. 

School districts with more than 1,500 students are not allowed to spend more than 5 percent of expenditures on administrative costs, which includes salaries for superintendent, assistant superintendent or any employee who has responsibility for administrative functions of a school district. 

The amount will be deducted from Epic’s next state aid payment, according to the email to Banfield. 

Thirteen school districts exceeded administration spending limits in Fiscal Year 2019, according to a report from the State Department of Education. 

The penalties for the 12 other districts averaged $19,468, with penalties on school districts ranging from $27.39 to $39,514.

Epic’s penalty of more than half a million dollars is 10 times more than any penalty issued over the past three years, according to documents obtained by The Frontier. 

EPIC’s CEO said it was a coding error. The state superintendent Joy Hofmeister said there was no error and the fine would be collected.