Harmony Schools, a Gülenist charter school network in Texas, is under investigation by the Texas Education Agency over misuse of state and federal funds, having granted inflated contracts to Gülen-affiliated vendors through obscure bidding processes. Shocking as Harmony Schools’ actions are, this is far from the first time that Gülenist charter schools have come under investigation by state and federal agencies.
Concept Schools, another charter school operator in the Gülen Movement’s network, was investigated in 2014 in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana for laundering taxpayer dollars using the same method. According to court documents released last year, the schools “engaged in a scheme to defraud a federal program” for low-income students, channeling over $5 million in federal funds to Gülenist vendors since 2007.
The rigging of contracts is omnipresent among Gülen’s charter schools, including the Buffalo Academy of Science in New York. The State Comptroller’s 2013 audit found that the company from which the school had leased its building, Apple Educational Services, had minimal real estate experience, raising suspicions over the choice of vendor and size of the contract. Investigations revealed that Apple was a Turkish-run company with established links to the Gülen Movement, helping to explain why Buffalo Academy had signed an agreement paying the firm $4.4 million more than its cost – a 200% return on investment for Apple and an affront to the New York taxpayers funding the inflated contract.
In Oklahoma, state auditors uncovered an identical money laundering scheme implicating Gülen’s Dove Science Academies. The schools were found to have paid almost $3.2 million more in lease payments to its managing organization than the organization had spent to purchase the property. The managing organization, Sky Foundation, is not only a Gülenist organization, but operates as the same entity as Dove, meaning Gülen’s schools were effectively channeling public Oklahoma funds to themselves.