A new book, Empire of Deceit, shows a nationwide pattern of abuses at schools linked to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. It’s available online here: http://empireofdeceit.com/
Abuses at the chain’s Ohio-based schools, which operate here under the names Horizon Science Academy or Noble Academy, have been well documented over the past 4 years. Education allies and journalists have uncovered everything from visa abuses to test tampering to a school so out of control that its own Dean of Students wrote a memo complaining of condoms in the hallway and sex in the in-school suspension lab.
The new book highlights those problems but also offers new details of abuses with school building leases.
The chain commonly pays inordinately high rent to companies owned by, or affiliated with, the charter operator. Gulen’s for-profit real estate company, Breeze, Inc., buys properties for the charter network. New Plan Learning was created later and now acts as the non-profit umbrella organization for Breeze and several others. New Plan Learning and its subsidiaries have made an estimated $18.75 million in profits, according to the book.
In his blog, Bill Phillis explains how the scheme has worked:
In 2005, the founder of Breeze Inc. purchased property and three parcels of land for $1.25 million. In 2005, the founder of Breeze Inc. and Concept Schools Management Company signed the lease with Breeze Inc. on behalf of Horizon Science Academy Cincinnati. Science 2005, the charter school has paid $3.6 million for rental fees for only one of the three parcels purchased for the original price of $1.25 million.
This money-making or laundering scheme is squarely on the backs of school district pupils whose districts are forced to pay for the charters.
Despite mounting evidence of problems at the schools, state regulators have a pattern of looking the other way – and even occasionally advancing the schools’ abuses.
In 2006, a Dayton school put a convicted felon in charge of student discipline.
And the Dean of Students at a Cleveland school had “no educational certifications or experience,” according to a federal judge.
In 2010, the Ohio Department of Education gave Muhammet “Matt” Yildiz a principal’s license to run a Gulen middle school in Columbus even though in 2002, state regulators refused him a teaching license after learning that he left his 1-year-old in a car while he went shopping.
In 2014, teachers who used to work at a Gulen-affiliated school in Dayton gave explosive testimony before the state school board and said they witnessed test tampering, an in-class groping game and Turkish teachers who called black students “dogs” or “monkeys.’’
The Ohio Department of Education’s response to the testimony evolved over time. Initially, they asked prosecutors to investigate the teachers. In a tweet, ODE’s spokesman advised departmental critics to “take a break from muckraking’’ and added …. Maybe you can get laid.’’
After furor from those responses died down, ODE did a sham investigation into the teachers’ testimony and said their information was too old or too vague to verify. Investigators ignored newer, more detailed information.
Time will tell whether ODE will ignore the book.
Where are the Gulen Charter Schools in Ohio?
Horizon Science Academy – Columbus (high school)
Horizon Science Academy – Cincinnati
Horizon Science Academy – Cleveland (high school)
Horizon Science Academy – Cleveland Middle School
Horizon Science Academy – Columbus Middle School
Horizon Science Academy – Dayton (elementary)
Horizon Science Academy – Dayton Downtown
Horizon Science Academy – Dayton High School
Horizon Science Academy – Denison Elementary School
Horizon Science Academy – Denison Middle School
Horizon Science Academy – Elementary School (Northeast Columbus)
Horizon Science Academy – Lorain
Horizon Science Academy – Springfield
Horizon Science Academy – Toledo
Horizon Science Academy – Youngstown
Noble Academy – Cleveland
Noble Academy – Columbus