The international law firm of Amsterdam & Partners filed on Tuesday a formal complaint against Gülenist Harmony Public Schools (Harmony) in Texas, U.S., urging the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to investigate document abuses for fraud, discrimination, and abuse in the Harmony network.
The Gülenist Harmony school network is reportedly financed by over $250 million federal and state tax dollars annually, and operates seven open-enrollment charter school districts serving forty-six charter campuses in Texas.
The complaint sets out numerous substantiated violations of laws and regulations designed to ensure transparency, accountability, and responsible stewardship of public resources.
According to the complaint, Harmony engages in illegal employment discrimination on the basis of national origin and gender, preference and selection of affiliated vendors in violation of open and competitive bidding requirements, and misuse of public education funds.
"The TEA has a responsibility to taxpayers to ensure that public education dollars are used solely for their intended purpose," said Robert Amsterdam, founding partner of Amsterdam & Partners LLP.
"Our own limited investigation reveals that Harmony uses taxpayer funds to finance an illegal H1-B visa scheme that places underqualified Turkish teachers into key positions in its schools, while simultaneously underpaying its more qualified non-Turkish teachers. We have also learned that Harmony misappropriates public funds by routinely engaging in improper self-dealing transactions with affiliated vendors, which has the further effect of preventing local businesses from competing for contracts at Harmony schools."
The complaint also asserts that Harmony and many of its directors, employees, and related vendors are connected to the Gülen Organization, a network of schools and affiliated businesses headed by Fethullah Gülen, a reclusive Turkish cleric residing in Saylorsville, Pennsylvania.
"We believe that Harmony's ill-gotten gains are funneled to the Gülen Organization, which uses them to enrich itself and to expand its political influence in the United States, Turkey and dozens of other countries around the world," said Amsterdam.
Amsterdam & Partners LLP – an international law firm with offices in London and Washington, DC – acts for the Republic of Turkey, and is conducting a global investigation into the alleged illegal activities of the Gülen Organization.
Gülen is among Turkey's most wanted, with the country exerting a tremendous effort to obtain an international arrest warrant for the cleric. He lives in a compound owned by his movement in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. Ankara is seeking to secure his extradition from the U.S.
Gülenists run a vast network of schools around the globe, but are primarily invested in charter schools in the U.S., which receive government funding but operate independent of the public school system. Dozens of schools associated with Gülenists are facing criticism and are under investigation over the alleged misuse of federal grants and the abuse of a visa scheme being used to funnel foreign teachers into charter schools who are brought from Turkey to live in the U.S.
The Gülenist (FETÖ) Terror Organization, which has seen its members and sympathizers purged from state institutions, including the police and judiciary, was designated by authorities as a national threat, a classification for terrorist organizations.
Gülenists are accused of illegally wiretapping thousands of people, from the prime minister to journalists and other prominent figures. They are also accused of imprisoning critics or anyone seen as an obstacle to the movement's attempts to gain further clout through sham trials. Hundreds of generals, academics and others were detained for years in cases in which they were accused of attempting to stage coups. It was later revealed that they were detained on charges based on false evidence planted by Gülenist members of law enforcement.
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