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Alleged Turkish coup leader tied to failed Fulton charter schools
Worth noting: FethullahGülen, the exiled cleric accused of fomenting last week’s failed coup attempt in Turkey, is also the man behind three former Fulton County charter schools that lost their taxpayer subsidies a few years back amid findings of financial misconduct.
Reporting in The Nation, George Joseph notes that Gülen-affiliated foundations in the U.S. run the country’s largest chain of charter schools — more than 130 in 26 states. Allegations of self-dealing and under-qualified teachers have plagued many of the schools in recent years.
In Fulton County, the school board revoked the charters of the Fulton Science Academy and two related schools after a 2012 audit found they had improperly awarded contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. As The New York Times reported:
The audit … found the schools made purchases like T-shirts, teacher training and video production services from organizations with connections to school officials or Gülen followers. Those included more than $500,000 in contracts since January 2010 with the Grace Institute, a foundation whose board has included school leaders. In some cases the awards skirted bidding requirements, the audit said.
The Fulton schools also defaulted on $19 million in bonds by failing to tell investors about uncertainty that one of the charters would be renewed.
Fulton Science Academy, which now operates as K-12 private school, had its defenders at the state Capitol. Former Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers and House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones were among 10 lawmakers who objected in 2011 to the school’s loss of its charter, urging the school board to seek a compromise. The board did not change its mind.