The charter schools belonging to the secretive organization of Fethullah Gülen operate in numerous states under dozens of different names, but they often bear one commonality – a pattern of fraud and dishonesty.
The latest school to be caught using fake addresses on its petitions is Union Arts and Science Charter School, which submitted documentation to the New Jersey Education Department, claiming to show that the “public” wanted more of these schools around to suck up more public education taxpayer money.
Only problem? The people on these lists appeared in many cases to have been made up. According to an investigation by NorthJersey.com (The Record newspaper), Linden district officials have claimed in letters and a lengthy affidavit that an overwhelming number of the petitions purportedly signed by city residents in support of the Union Arts and Science Charter School were bogus, “either forged or were completely fictitious.”
In many cases when attendance officers – including a retired city policeman – knocked on doors, residents simply said they didn’t know the person who had signed the petition.
“They would say that’s my address, but I’ve lived here for the last so many years and nobody by that name lives here,” said John Horre, a district attendance officer who served three decades on the Linden police force.
In fact, in a spot-check of the petitions, The Record and NorthJersey.com found one was signed with the name and address of a woman who a widely used commercial database shows died in 2007; the forms were submitted to the state in October 2015 as part of the charter’s initial application.
But this is far from the only time that the Gulen school network has blatantly lied and forged application documents. They have formerly been caught red handed in an attempt to open new schools in Lewiston, Maine using fake references. Mayor Robert Macdonald asked for the Maine Attorney General’s office to take action against the group when his office found out that they had forged the signatures of numerous prominent members of the community which had never met them nor ever given their permission to endorse them.