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The Oklahoma State Board of Education will hold a special meeting at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 12 to discuss findings in the state’s forensic audit of Epic Charter Schools. The agenda is posted here.

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Oklahoma City Public Schools discussed bringing back pre-K and kindergarten students to in-person learning during a board meeting this past week. The district intends to bring these students back on an A/B schedule Monday, Oct. 19, if Oklahoma County COVID rates remain in Orange Level One. As of Friday, Oct. 9, the county has met this criterion.

Meanwhile, Irving Middle School in Norman held virtual classes on Monday, Oct. 5, after 20 faculty members requested paid sick leave in order to get tested for COVID-19. That came after a school administrator tested positive for the virus the previous Friday. However, Norman Public Schools denied the requests for time off.

Catch up on the week’s coveducation news with this roundup of headlines from around the state.

State Board of Education to discuss Epic audit

A special meeting of the Oklahoma State Board of Education to discuss the findings of the state’s forensic audit of Epic Charter Schools will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 12.

The agenda includes a presentation and discussion about the audit and a possible executive session with the board’s legal counsel “concerning a pending investigation, claim or action” about Epic.

Initial findings from the audit include chronically inaccurate cost accounting by Epic to state education officials that reportedly allowed school co-founders Ben Harris and David Chaney to boost their personal earnings by nearly $2 million through their for-profit charter school management company. Epic has denied the allegations, but state and federal law enforcement agencies have been looking into the school and were provided the audit.

OKCPS Board of Education discusses return to campus, approves raises

At Monday night’s Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education Meeting, members discussed their plan of bringing the district’s youngest learners back to in-person learning.

As NonDoc reported earlier this week, OKCPS intends on having pre-K and kindergarten students return to the classroom on an A/B schedule Monday, Oct. 19, if Oklahoma County COVID-19 rates remain in Orange Level One — meaning fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 people — for two consecutive weeks. As of Friday, Oct. 9 the county has remained in Orange Level 1 for two weeks, meeting the criteria to bring pre-K and kindergarteners back.

The board also approved a 2020-2021 salary increase for eligible certified staff and eligible support employees.

Eligible certified staff will receive an increase in starting pay from $41,000 to $41,500 as well as an increase in scheduled salary step 25 from $61,135 to $61,735. Additional terms related to teacher transfers, assignments and evaluations were also agreed upon.

Eligible support employees will see a $0.35 per hour increase in pay along with targeted increases for bus drivers, site substitutes and skilled laborers.

Norman Middle School closes after 20 teachers request sick leave to test for COVID-19

Irving Middle School in Norman held classes virtually on Monday, Oct. 5, after 20 teachers and staff requested sick leave in order to get tested for COVID-19.

According to a report from The Oklahoman’s Nuria Martinez-Keel, faculty at the school requested this paid time off to get tested after learning Friday evening that a school administrator was positive for COVID.

Norman Public Schools denied the requests for time off, and one administrator said the influx of requests was “counterproductive and hurtful.”

Same-day testing was arranged for Irving Middle School faculty during Monday’s virtual learning day.

Deadline extended for Learn Anywhere Oklahoma Funding

Gov. Kevin Stitt has extended the deadline to Oct. 30 for Oklahoma school districts to claim funding for virtual learning resources through Learn Anywhere Oklahoma.

KFOR’s Hicham Raache reported that more than 250 school districts across the state have claimed funding through the program, but a third of all school districts still lack an established virtual learning platform.

Learn Anywhere Oklahoma is administered by the Oklahoma Supplemental Online Course Program. School district officials can find enrollment support at learnanywhereok.org or by calling (405) 645-7750.

More children and teenagers testing positive for COVID-19

A report from Oklahoma Watch’s Mike Sherman and Trevor Brown stated that more children and teenagers are testing positive for COVID-19 as in-person schooling has resumed for weeks for students across most of the state.

While positive cases among K-12 school-aged children have steadily increased throughout the pandemic as testing has evolved, some of the biggest increases came in September, when many students began returning to in-person classes.

Data show that since Sept. 14, at least 100 Oklahomans in the 5-17 age group tested positive each day the state has reported data. There were only six days with more than 100 of these positive test results in August.

Oklahoma education tweets of the week