State Sen. Ron Sharp airs frustrations about Epic Charter Schools during an interview with Oklahoma Watch in his office at the State Capitol on April 22, 2019. (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch)

In 2020, one of Epic Charter Schools’ most vocal critics in the state Legislature lost his Senate election. Ron Sharp, a government teacher for nearly four decades, had represented Shawnee at the Capitol for eight years. He filed numerous bills attempting to regulate virtual charter schools like Epic, and publicly questioned many of the school’s practices.

Days before the Republican runoff, which pitted Sharp against Shane Jett, Epic sent an email to thousands of its families. The school’s message called Sharp “a dishonest and relentless critic of our school” and encouraged parents to exercise their right to vote.

The IRS prohibits nonprofit organizations, like Epic, from “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” And because the email named Sharp specifically, I wanted to know if it was a violation.

That question may soon be answered. The IRS is now investigating Epic — you can read my latest story here.

As always, I’d love to hear from you via email or DM.

— Jennifer Palmer

Recommended Reading

  • At a forum with Enid officials and community leaders, Gov. Kevin Stitt and State Rep. Chad Caldwell promoted a senate voucher bill despite opposition from the crowd. Caldwell said he wouldn’t change his vote even if he heard from more constituents who were opposed. [Enid News & Eagle]
  • New studies show the pandemic has set back millions of young students in reading. [The New York Times]
  • Rebecka Peterson, a math teacher at Tulsa Union High School, was named the 2022 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. [The Oklahoman]

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