In an example of how virtual instruction can run afoul of state regulations, Oklahoma’s education department has ordered a virtual charter school to stop enrolling students at physical school sites planned to open in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Norman this September.
“Any on-site full-day prekindergarten or on-site kindergarten program would appear to be outside the boundaries of state law,” said Damon Gardenhire, spokesman for the department.
State law says that any charter school must be physically located in the school district that grants the charter, Gardenhire said.
In this case, Epic One on One Charter School is chartered through Graham Public Schools. Graham is a rural community in Okfuskee County, Okla., just northwest of Ardmore.
Charter schools are privately run but publicly funded and require the sponsorship of a school district, higher-education institution, or career technology center to operate. The schools are funded by the state based on student enrollment.
Epic is a virtual charter school in which students attend classes almost exclusively online, but they also meet with their virtual teachers in a face-to-face setting on occasion.
Students from anywhere in the state can transfer into Graham Public Schools and attend the school for free.
According to Epic’s website, the school’s leaders are opening three facilities.
David Chaney, founder and head of Epic One on One Charter Schools, said he has not received a letter from the state.
He also said the facilities are not actually schools. They are centers where students can access the virtual curriculum on computers and internet access provided by Epic.
“All of our students are virtual students,” Chaney said. “It’s no different from our other model. It’s a self-paced model, and anytime the facility is open, parents can drop them off or pick them up, and while they are there they will get to have access to their internet and curriculum.”
Epic One on One advertises a prekindergarten school at 11911 N Pennsylvania in Oklahoma City with 250 seats. An additional 250 prekindergarten seats are available at a site at 4343 N Flood in Norman.
The classes are led by certified teachers and include two hours of “innovative classroom instruction,” two hours of “computer based instruction,” and two hours of “structured play,” in addition to lunch, snack, and rest breaks.