A hockey-themed charter school planning to open this fall in Edmond does not have authorization to operate, according to the state Education Department.

Calling itself the Oklahoma Hockey Academy, the school plans to charge $6,000 for hockey instruction but use Epic Charter Schools’ free curriculum while providing a teacher and classroom on site, according to an April 30 article in the Edmond Sun.

Under state law, charter schools are prohibited from charging tuition or fees.

Charter schools are also required to have an authorizer, a school district or other entity that ensures the school meets certain standards, and be accredited by the state Education Department.

When contacted last week, the department had no record of the school’s application.

Gordon Bell, the school’s organizer, did not respond to an email or phone calls from Oklahoma Watch requesting further information. In response to a Facebook message, the Oklahoma Hockey Academy said it is unable to discuss anything with the media “due to legal reasons.”

Epic does not have a formal partnership with the program, said Bart Banfield, an assistant superintendent for Epic. But he added it makes sense that participants in that program would use Epic’s model.

“A lot of our students participate at a high level in athletic endeavors, including hockey, ice skating and even rodeo. We’re happy to provide an academic home for exceptional student athletes,” Banfield said.

Opening a new charter school takes a considerable number of steps. For the state’s two newest charter schools – LeMonde International School in Norman and The Academy of Seminole – the process took several years. Typically, charters have to first apply for authorization to the local school district in their area. An Edmond Public Schools spokeswoman said the district had not heard of the Oklahoma Hockey Academy.

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