The following press release was distributed on Oct 13, 2016:
A recently concluded investigation by the Texas Education Agency into the charter school network controlled by secretive Turkish figure Fethullah Gülen has failed to address the substance of numerous glaring irregularities, says Robert Amsterdam, an attorney acting on behalf of the Republic of Turkey.
On May 24, 2016 a complaint was filed to the TEA by Amsterdam & Partners LLP revealing a widespread pattern of fraud, discrimination, and abuse at Harmony Public Schools. The TEA however believes it only had the authority to evaluate just two allegations out of more than ten raised in this complaint.
“If the TEA is unable to investigate these egregious abuses by Harmony Public Schools, then we must refer the matter to other state authorities,” said Amsterdam. “Considering that Harmony has set up corporations such as Charter School Solutions (CSS) for the sole purpose of profiting off taxpayer funds dedicated to education, the very serious issues raised in this complaint cannot be dismissed so casually.”
Amsterdam described the investigation outcome as “politically convenient” for Fethullah Gülen, whose organization is one of the state’s most prolific campaign donors, and vowed to bring the matter up before other state officials who are capable of defending the interests of both taxpayers and schoolchildren.
“This cursory inquiry not only ignored the majority of the issues raised in the complaint, but also failed to look beyond the registered agents of the contracting companies without even considering who the beneficiaries are,” said Amsterdam. “Knowing the Gülenists, they will undoubtedly attempt to portray this whitewash as a victory. But the fact is that there are many areas that TEA did not address, and we intend to request other state agencies and public officials to scrutinize Harmony’s activity.”
Among the issues in the complaint that were left aside by TEA include evidence of discrimination in hiring, pay, and promotion favoring Turkish males, preference for related Turkish vendors in major contracts, discrimination against English Language learners and Students with Disabilities, abuse of the H-1B visa program to bring in underqualified Turkish nationals for teaching and leadership positions, misuse of federal program funding for low socioeconomic students and students with special needs, and systematic overcharging of leases to Harmony schools by Harmony’s private real estate arm to siphon over $18 million of public funds out of the schools.
Despite finding that Harmony had paid over $18.7 million dollars to Turkish owned vendors in the last two years, TEA conducted no analysis to determine whether these vendors had illegal relationships to Harmony’s leadership, as alleged in the complaint. This deserves more investigation because it is known that some of these local funds Harmony receives come from questionable sources. For example, Harmony received $175,000 from Gulen-affiliated schools in Oklahoma that in a recent audit by the Oklahoma State Auditor were considered an improper use of state funds.
Robert Amsterdam is the founding partner of Amsterdam & Partners LLP, which was appointed by the Republic of Turkey to investigate unlawful activity of Fethullah Gülen. More information about the scandals surrounding Gülen’s 146 U.S. charter schools can be found on guleninvestigation.com.