Charter schools operated by the Turkish Gulen movement, which have been springing up across the US, are under investigation by the FBI and departments of Labor and Education, an in-depth report published by the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday detailed.
The investigations are centered on whether some charter school employees are kicking back of their salaries to the Gulen movement, which is led by a Turkish exile Fathulah Gulen, an Islamist political figure, who is in crosshairs with Turkish Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan and has been living in Pennsylvania after being granted asylum by the US.
The federal probe also centers on the large number of H1B visas being requested for Gulen-run school teachers and staff, whereby local teachers are passed up for those imported from Turkey.
“The schools are funded with millions of taxpayer dollars. Truebright alone receives more than $3 million from the Philadelphia School District for its 348 pupils. Tansu Cidav, the acting chief executive officer, described it as a regular public school,” reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Gulen schools are among the nation’s largest users of the H1B visas. In 2009, the schools received government approvals for 684 visas – more than Google Inc. (440) but fewer than a technology powerhouse such as Intel Corp. (1,203),” added the Inquirer article.
Gulen runs charter schools in Ohio, California, Texas, Arizona, Utah and other states. Last year, the Los Angeles Unified School District granted a charter to the Gulen-affiliated Magnolia School in North Hollywood and portion of Birmingham High School in Van Nuys.
In 2010, a group of parents in Tucson, Arizona, appealed to the local school board with concerns that the charter school affiliated with the Gulen movement was “part of a confederation of learning institutions secretly linked to, and advancing, the cause of Turkish scholar and Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen,” according the Tucson Weekly.
Read the Philadelphia Inquirer article here.