Oklahoma governor requests audit of Epic Charter Schools
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister are calling for an investigative audit of Epic Charter Schools.
That's after state investigators revealed an embezzlement probe involving the school's co-founders.
The two Republicans issued the joint statement Friday, and Stitt formally requested an audit by State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd. Stitt asked that the audit include the school and 'all related entities,' along with a three-year look back on previous audits.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation alleged in a court affidavit this week that Epic co-founders David Chaney and Ben Harris embezzled millions in state funds by inflating student enrollment numbers.
The investigation is ongoing, and no formal charges have been filed. The two men have denied wrongdoing.
Experts urge realism in hopes for 1921 Tulsa race riot probe
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Experts are trying to temper expectations concerning the search of three graves sites in Tulsa that could hold the remains of people killed during the 1921 race riots.
As many as 300 people are estimated to have been killed on Tulsa's Black Wall Street during one of the worst race-related massacres in U.S. history.
At a public oversight meeting in the city on Thursday, scientists and historians detailed their progress in the gravesite project.
Dr. Phoebe Stubblefield, a University of Florida forensic anthropologist specializing in human identification, said the number of years that have passed will make identifying remains a challenge.
"Be realistic, a century has passed," said Stubblefield.
She said she has two goals: "I want to send these people home, and I hope to be able to identify them enough to know (whether they are) a race massacre victim."
She also noted that some of the bodies at two of the sites likely aren't related to the riots.
"I present this not to be a killjoy for those eager to get these stories told," Stubblefield said. "It's really to frame a timeline."
Historian Scott Ellsworth, a Tulsa native who started researching the massacre nearly 40 years ago, said the three sites under investigation — Oaklawn Cemetery, Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens and property near Newblock Park — were identified by witnesses, oral histories and ground anomalies.
In October, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum declared that the city would re-examine the sites, which were last inspected by the Tulsa Race Riot Commission in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Officials at Thursday's meeting said no decisions on excavating will be made until data from field work by the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey is thoroughly examined.
Death certificates have been discovered for 37 people, including 25 African Americans, slain in the massacre. Most authorities believe the actual death toll is substantially higher.
"This is really unprecedented work that we're doing," Ellsworth said. "I really can't think of anywhere in the country where there's already been so much effort put in, there's ongoing effort, and please know that even though you may not hear from us for a few months, we're not lying around. We're committed to this."
Oklahoma man accused of raping child in McDonald's bathroom
MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (AP) — A 37-year-old Oklahoma man has been jailed on rape complaints after authorities said he sexually assaulted a 4-year-old girl in a bathroom at a McDonald's play area, which the child was visiting during a day care field trip.
Midwest City police say a day care worker knocked on the locked bathroom door Tuesday after the girl didn't return promptly. A police affidavit says a man eventually came out and said, "I was just washing my hands."
The child told workers the man, identified as Joshua Kabatra, sexually assaulted her.
Kabatra remains jailed in Oklahoma City, and court records don't list an attorney who can speak on his behalf. McDonald's said in a statement that it's "deeply disturbed" by the allegations and that it's cooperating with police.