(June 23, 2022) Oklahoma City, OK – Jena Nelson, candidate for Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction, released the following statement regarding the arrest and numerous criminal charges filed against Epic Schools co-founders Ben Harris, David Chaney and the former chief financial officer for their company, Josh Brock.
“The numerous charges filed today against the officials behind Epic Schools are welcome news in the battle against corruption and for accountability. Oklahoma’s hard-working taxpayers are the victims of this fraud, and they deserve to know that their public dollars are going to effective public schools. I want to make sure, however, that we don’t forget about two other groups who are victims of Epic’s lawlessness: its students and teachers. They were victims of Epic’s failed promises, too."
“I applaud all those involved with bringing Epic’s misdeeds to light and will support all efforts to ensure Oklahoma is never again subject to such a wide-ranging fraud. Unfortunately – but not surprisingly – this is becoming commonplace in the Kevin Stitt/Ryan Walters administration. Oklahoma deserves better. Education is a sacred duty that society owes to its next generation and those who pervert that obligation to line their own pockets deserve the harshest punishments available.”
Mrs. Nelson is a middle school English teacher. Her classroom excellence was recognized when she won 2020 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. In addition to being an educator, Mrs. Nelson is mom to 17-year-old son, Rafe, and 12-year-old daughter, Linnea. Her husband, Karl, is a professor and Director of Choral Studies at the University of Central Oklahoma. Mrs. Nelson has been an educator for more than 16 years and has helped her students earn over $4 million in scholarships. She has been selected to direct at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and was chosen as a presenter at the International Music Festival in Campina Grande Brazil. In 2020, she was asked by Congresswoman Kendra Horn to attend the State of the Union Address in Washington D.C. She recently spoke at the National Academy for Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Oklahoma Music Educators Association Conference, and was presented the Award for Teaching Excellence from the OEA.