AP NEWS

Teacher sues online Oklahoma school over firing

November 21, 2019 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A teacher is suing an online Oklahoma charter school, alleging she was fired after objecting to questionable enrollment practices.

Ryan Aispuro is the fourth teacher to sue Epic Charter Schools, The Oklahoman reported. One teacher dropped her suit last week.

In her lawsuit filed Tuesday, Aispuro said Epic pressured her to strictly enforce attendance and truancy standards on students with below-average academic ability but not on higher performing students. She is requesting $75,000 in damages.

Shelly Hickman, Epic’s assistant superintendent of communications, said the school is eager to present its case.

Epic offers significant bonuses to teachers based on student retention, test scores, attendance and the student’s ability to move on to the next grade level.

Aispuro said poor student performance would have negatively affected bonuses for her and those above her in Epic’s hierarchy.

Students who are marked absent for 10 consecutive school days are dropped from enrollment. The Oklahoma State Department of Education considers them as non-full-academic-year students. Those students don’t count against their school’s overall test scores, even if they enroll back into school.

The school’s principal approached Aispuro with alleged complaints from two parents reporting a lack of communication from her. Aispuro provided the principal with evidence to show she attempted to contact those families, but she was fired regardless, according to the lawsuit.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has alleged that Epic embezzled millions in state funds through a scheme to artificially inflate enrollment numbers. The state agency also alleged the charter school manipulated its enrollment by forcing students into truancy. Epic denies wrongdoing.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com