The state’s attorney general on Monday assumed control of, then immediately dismissed, a lawsuit against Florida-based vendor ClassWallet for its role in two pandemic relief programs for students.

Oklahoma hired ClassWallet to distribute $18 million in federal dollars to families to pay for private school tuition through the Stay in School program or purchase school supplies through Digital Wallet. In that program, federal auditors found at least $650,000 in improper purchases, including for TVs, Christmas trees and grills. The state auditor last year found more than $1.8 million in questioned costs in Digital Wallet and $6.5 million in Stay in School. 

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond last year dismissed a similar lawsuit against the same vendor. In January, Gov. Kevin Stitt wrote Drummond and asked him to refile it.

Drummond refused, and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services instead had private attorneys Cheryl Plaxico and Austin Mosely file the lawsuit on Jan. 30.

Drummond said he dismissed the lawsuit because it left the state open to paying potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees for ClassWallet.

Drummond pointed to an email in which Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters, when he was executive director of a nonprofit managing Digital Wallet, gave participants blanket approval to purchase any items from approved vendors’ websites.

“While the governor’s office may be eager to shift blame for the misuse of over half a million dollars of federal funds, those audits confirm that his administration rejected ClassWallet’s internal controls and did not perform review expenditures,” he wrote in the filing.

Jennifer Palmer has been a reporter with Epic Text Books since 2016 and covers education. Contact her at (405) 761-0093 or Follow her on Twitter @jpalmerOKC.

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