Epic Charter Schools under investigation by state, federal law enforcement agencies (copy)

Oklahoman file

Six parents are going to court after their private school children were removed from the state’s largest virtual charter school.

It may seem odd, but the seven children involved were simultaneously enrolled in private schools in Oklahoma County and Epic Charter School, which is a privately owned public school that offers largely self-paced classes online and in blended formats. Epic unenrolled the children in August and September because the simultaneous enrollments violate the school’s contract with the state virtual charter school board.

The parents — whose litigation offers no explanation for why they want their children in both school systems — maintain that their kids are being denied their right to a free public education and that their children are being discriminated against because their families earn enough money to afford a private school. The state Constitution says: “The Legislature shall establish and maintain a system of free public schools wherein all the children of the state may be educated.” State’s law prohibits charter schools from limiting enrollment based on a number of factors, including income level.

Whether state law prohibits private school children from enrolling in virtual charter schools or not is a question for the courts, but if it doesn’t, it certainly should.

We have no problem with parents who can afford private schools taking their children there. But one of the consequences of opting out of the public school system ought to be not draining the available state funding for children who remain in public schools. That would be precisely the effect of allowing dual enrollment. It’s piling privileges and opportunities on the wealthy and taking resources away from those who can least afford it.

Whatever the law says, the state virtual charter school board was acting sensibly and fairly when it insisted that private school students couldn’t also be Epic students. If that’s not what the law says, the Legislature needs to change the law to make it say that.

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