A 2012 article in The Huffington Post reported that the (now closed) Minnesota School of Science, a Gülen-affiliated charter school in Minneapolis, carried out what was described as a “forced exodus” of special needs students, sparking anger among the local community. The Gülen Movement still operates in the state, running the Minnesota Math and Science Academy:
Last week, the families of 40 Minneapolis students with special needs were informed their children would not be welcomed back to the one-year-old charter Minnesota School of Science.
Originally, the arrangement stipulated that special education classrooms would remain in the building, and their occupants would remain Minneapolis Public School students in name. A one-year contract required the new charter school to provide opportunities for the special education students — who have autism and Down syndrome, among others — to interact with mainstream peers.
On July 9, however, the charter school’s board notified the district they would not re-sign a contract to mainstream MPS students this coming fall.
In a blog post, Rob Panning-Miller cites this forced exodus of children with special needs as “just the latest evidence that charter schools do not serve all students.”
Likewise, Ravitch writes that this action clearly suggests MSS is bouncing these students to improve test scores, questioning, “Is this what ‘no child left behind’ means? Does it mean pushing out the most vulnerable children to inflate the school’s scores?”
As Diane Ravitch points out in her education blog, the Minnesota School of Science is part of a chain of urban, Midwestern charter schools managed by Concept Schools, a nonprofit management and consulting organization based in Chicago. Concept Schools alsomanages 27 publicly funded Gulen charter schools — a controversial network of charters run by followers of Fethullah Gulen, a prominent Turkish preacher who has inspired a worldwide religious, social and nationalistic movement.
The New York Times reported in June that three Gulen schools were embroiled in a controversy involving audits tied to the Gulen movement. In 2011, it was reported that the FBI was investigating suspicions that the Gulen charter schools were using taxpayer moneyto bring Gulen-connected teachers to the U.S. from Turkey and other countries. In turn, these teachers allegedly agreed to ship back a percentage of their paychecks to the Gulen movement in Turkey.