Education association sues FETÖ charter school in Alabama

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 05.08.2019 00:06

The Alabama Education Association (AEA) filed a lawsuit on Friday against a Texas-based member of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) seeking to open a charter school in rural southwest Alabama.

Alabama residents in Washington County have strongly rejected plans to establish a charter school in the area, yet the project was approved despite major shortcomings and a lack of educational standards and credentials.

According to a report by the Al Reporter, a news magazine in Alabama, the lawsuit claims Soner Tarım "engaged in fraudulent conduct to conceal the extent of his involvement with the non-profit organization that is allegedly behind the creation of Woodland Prep, a charter school located in Washington County."

Tarım, one of the key figures running FETÖ's charter school network in the U.S., is the CEO of the Unity School Services and was the founder of Harmony Schools, a charter school network in Texas.

FETÖ and its U.S.-based billionaire leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.

FETÖ was also behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

The lawsuit also claims Tarım "misrepresented the level of community support for the school and is advertising illegally in Mississippi in an attempt to attract enough students to be able to open the school."

Tarım's charter project in Alabama was granted a one-year extension by the Alabama Public Charter School Commission to delay the opening of the school a few months ago.

AEA Associate Executive Director Theron Stokes said, based on reports, that it was clear the group who made the charter school application for Woodland Prep was "nothing but a front for Tarım," as reported by Al Reporter.

"He (Tarım) got a taste for Alabama taxpayer money through the LEAD Academy in Montgomery and has decided he wants to franchise corporate charter schools," Stokes said.

"But the citizens of Washington County have risen up to fight the diversion of funds from a school system that, despite the odds, is thriving and succeeding. That is why contractors walked off the construction site, why he's advertising in Mississippi to get students, and why we are taking this step – to support our members and our local association in their fight," Stokes added.

According to an earlier report by the same magazine: "A copy of the contract with the Woodland Prep board shows that Tarım will make 15% of all federal, state and local funds received by Woodland. If Woodland's projected enrollment of 260 students is accurate

, Tarım will make more than $300,000," making him the highest paid official in the poverty-stricken county.

It also said "legal questions" had been raised about Harmony as well as Tarım's use of the schools to exploit a visa program and skirt hiring laws to give contract jobs to Turkish workers and teachers, referring to Gülen loyalists.

"There have also been other, education-related problems, such as a massive grade-change scandal at Harmony in Texas and financial fraud allegations related to grants at other Gülen schools," reported the magazine.

FETÖ has a considerable presence internationally, including private schools – with more than 150 charter schools in the U.S. – and hospitals, which serve as a key revenue stream for the terror group.

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