A recent article in Fort Worth Weekly details the countless instances of budgetary impropriety and fraud in Gülen’s Harmony Public School network in Texas. Notably, the Texas Education Agency is now refusing to provide key documents regarding the schools’ unlawful actions:
In October, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) slammed shut an investigation prompted by a complaint filed against Harmony Public Schools by Amsterdam & Partners in which the firm alleged a variety of offenses, including misuse of taxpayer dollars, self-dealing, discrimination toward English language learners and special education students, favoritism toward male Turkish teachers, and the abuse of H-1B visas, a federal program designed to allow organizations to recruit and bring in overseas employees when there are severe shortages of qualified American workers.
The TEA denied an open records request by the Fort Worth Weekly for a list of the top contributors to the fund, sorted by name and amount. The request had been forwarded to the State Attorney General’s Office, where it was denied. Both agencies cited a purported audit working-paper exception as a basis to withhold the requested information. In another open records request, the Weekly sought the consulting agreements Harmony has with other charter schools. That information was deemed off-limits for the same reason.
The state agencies refused to provide the paperwork, though the TEA currently has no open investigation into Harmony.
Male leaders for Harmony have worked for Gulen-related organizations or hold other influential Gulen-sympathetic positions in Texas, according to sources and documents. Harmony CEO Tarim serves as treasurer of the Texas Charter Schools Association and is on the board of directors for the Region 4 Education Service Center in Houston, where Harmony is headquartered.
Questions remain over whether it is in the best interests of Texas taxpayers and students to have the state serve as a launch pad for a national charter school agenda, especially one with such controversial undercurrents.