It is widely known that many employees of the US charter school network of Fethullah Gülen are brought over from Turkey on H-1B visas, and then made to pay a portion of their salary as a kickback to fund the organization. Those who don’t comply are said to be threatened with deportation. Now, more whistleblowing teachers are coming forward in upstate New York to confirm this abusive practice.
According to a new report from the Albany Times-Union, at least one teacher from fired from his job at the Utica Academy of Science, one of several Gülen-linked charters in New York, after refusing to pay the kickback. From the report:
But after Konkur came to the United States to teach math at schools inspired by Gulen’s movement, his experience was markedly different.
According to Konkur, Turkish teachers at charter schools in Texas and Utica were required to pay a portion of their taxpayer-funded salaries back to the schools. When he ultimately refused to pay the “tithe,” Konkur says, he was fired in 2015 from the Utica Academy of Science. (…)
Konkur, who says he gave back about $10,000 of his salary over his first year teaching in Utica, provided the Times Union with what he said were copies of checks he wrote to charities in Rochester that share an address with a prominent arm of the Gulen movement. (…)
Konkur, however, is not the only person to make such an allegation. Mustafa Emanet, a former IT administrator at a Gulen-inspired charter in Ohio, told CBS News in March he had been forced to pay back about 40 percent of his salary. The school told CBS it was cooperating with a federal probe into the matter.
For his part, Konkur says he has met with the Department of Homeland Security about his allegations.
The Gulen schools across the country have hired a large number of Turkish men on H1-B visas, which are meant to be for highly skilled jobs.
Records show that in Utica, math, science and computer science teachers have been hired through the program, as well as a college guidance counselor and a Turkish language teacher.
At the Syracuse Academy of Science, the visas have even been used to hire physical education teachers.
One such HB-1 recipient in Utica was Konkur, who came to the United States in 2008 at age 28. There was a powerful incentive to keep his job: His visa and entry to the United States could be revoked if he became unemployed, he said.