A charter school commission in the U.S. state of Alabama approved on Friday a one-year extension to start the operation of a school despite objections of the superintendent of education, experts and local Alabamians.
According to local journalist Trisha Powell Crain, who was present at the meeting in capital Montgomery, the motion was approved after a 5-1 vote.
The commission requested Woodland Preparatory in rural Washington County meets deadlines, otherwise, Commissioner Tommy Ledbetter said, "They are subject to violating their contract."
The decision comes amid growing protests from locals and education experts who voiced criticism about the Woodland Prep's poor credentials and its links to a terrorist group overseas. Alabama State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey sent a letter Tuesday to the charter school commission saying he is "deeply disturbed by many concerns surrounding" the school that is one of over 150 for-profit schools of the Gülenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ) in the U.S.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader, Fetullah Gülen, is accused of orchestrating the July 15, 2016 defeated coup which left 251 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured in Turkey.
FETÖ has a considerable presence outside Turkey, including private schools that serve as a revenue stream for the terror group. It runs some 150 charter schools in several states of the U.S.
After the failed coup, the terror group has depended more heavily on its for-profit schools worldwide, even as the media and education professionals have sharply questioned the schools' purposes and finances.
Mackey's list of concerns includes "insufficient student enrollment, insufficient number of school administrators, teachers, and staff, facility and building readiness and compliance, inaccurate or possibly false information contained in the original application as well as the transparency of the charter school governing board and fierce public opposition."
"Should Woodland Preparatory request a further extension form the Charter School Commission, I hope you would weigh each of these serious concerns as part of the deliberative process," added Mackey, urging the commission to not turn a blind eye to the charter school's defects.