Sunday, February 26, 2017
Gulenist try to sneak a application into Massachusetts - Monopoly of charter schools
“Any attempt by the Turkish government to create connections through loose inferences needlessly discredits our schools’ efforts to bring high-quality educational opportunities to families,” said Dominic Slowey, spokesman for the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association.
“Strong oversight is fair and welcome but campaigns based on innuendo and xenophobia are not,” he added.
Slowey said claims that the Hampden Charter School of Science is associated with the religious movement led by exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who moved to Pennsylvania after fleeing Turkey in the late 1990s, are unfounded. But an expert on the Gulen movement said schools associated with it have come under fire and state officials should tread carefully.
“They should really look into this,” said David North, a fellow with the conservative think tank Center for Immigration Studies. “Don’t sully your copybook by rushing ahead and accepting this proposal when a whole lot of questions aren’t answered.”
The Chicopee-based Hampden Charter School of Science is looking to “replicate” and create a new grades 6-12 school with 588 students and a STEM focus in Westfield. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is set to vote on whether to approve the school’s application on Monday.
Attorney Robert Amsterdam, whose law firm has been hired by the Turkish government to investigate schools reportedly tied to Gulen, is urging state education officials to deny the application. He said he sent the state a packet outlining Gulen’s network of 120 charter schools, alleging the Chicopee organization is one of them.http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2017/02/charter_school_pushing_back_against_turkish_government
OPEN LETTER TO MASSACHUSETTS PARENTS
On February 27, the 12-member Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be voting on whether or not to allow the Chicopee-based Hampden Charter School of Science to open a sister school in Westfield. In the application tabled by HCCS West, the new facility would aim to be a regional grade 6-12 school drawing from 588 students from Agawam, Holyoke, Westfield, and West Springfield school districts.
Parents and concerned taxpayers should urgently press the Board to reject this request. This school has known ties to the Turkish-run Pioneer Charter Schools of Science in Everett and Saugas, which are part of a nationwide network of some 170 schools operated by followers of Fethullah Gülen.
For the past year, on behalf of the Government of Turkey, my law firm has been investigating the Gülen organization schools, which are believed to be connected to last July’s bloody coup attempt in Turkey. The findings have been astounding.
In Massachusetts alone, there are numerous red flags. According to an earlier investigation by the Boston Globe, the Pioneer charter schools have spent more than $84,215 in public funds to bring 16 teachers into the country on H1-B visas – but some years later only four remained at the school.
There are also signs of systemic financial misappropriation. The Globe investigation found that Pioneer had paid out $128,600 in consulting fees to Turkish-owned Apple Education Services, and another $218,646 to five front companies registered at the same address – and that was four years ago.
And of course Pioneer isn’t operating independently, as their management has repeatedly claimed. Their application to open a second campus directly lifted text, word for word, from past applications used by Harmony Public Schools in Texas, another prominent Gülen chain.
Across the nation, there is a clear pattern of abuse in these schools. In California, Magnolia Public Schools spent almost $1 million on lawyers and fees to bring in 138 teachers, overwhelmingly from Turkey. In Texas, where they operate 46 charter schools, Harmony Public Schools inked a $102 million deal with a brand new company headed by the school’s former budget director – while employees go through a revolving door between the schools and selected vendors. In Ohio, Gulen’s Concept Schools have siphoned away $19 million of taxpayer dollars through “closed-loop leasing,” by buying buildings and renting them back to themselves at exorbitant rates. The list goes on and on.