Texas Agency Finds No Wrongdoing by Harmony Public Schools

(Gary Fountain, December 20, 2012) The Central Office for Harmony Public Schools.
(Gary Fountain, December 20, 2012) The Central Office for Harmony Public Schools.


Date posted: October 18, 2016

Andrea Zelinski

AUSTIN – Texas education officials have dismissed a complaint against the state’s largest charter school network after determining two major charges leveled against it by the Turkish government were baseless.

The decision by the Texas Education Agency to dismiss allegations that the school favored Turkish vendors and wasted taxpayer money is the latest development in an international spat that connects Houston-based Harmony Public Schools with a key figure allegedly tied to instigating a political uprising in Turkey.

“The flagrant lies spread by these foreign agents are unconscionable,” said Robert Schulman, a lawyer representing Harmony Public Schools. “That a foreign country would attack a U.S. public school system and waste taxpayers’ dollars by requesting a state review of 42 pages of phony accusations is simply wrong.”

The Republic of Turkey, through Washington-based Amsterdam and Partners LLP, filed a complaint in May alleging the 32,000-student charter school network engaged in employment discrimination, self-dealing and misused public funds. The TEA took up two of the allegations it said it had jurisdiction over and announced Friday to the parties that the allegations were unfounded.

Robert Amsterdam, a registered foreign agent representing the Republic of Turkey, said the TEA’s decision is “politically convenient” for Fethullah Gülen, an expatriate Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania.

The Turkish government, run by former political ally President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, believes Gülen masterminded a coup this summer to take over the country and is asking the United States government to extradite him to Turkey.

Amsterdam alleges operators of Harmony Public Schools are Gülen followers who funnel money to his cause.

“Knowing the Gülenists, they will undoubtedly attempt to portray this whitewash as a victory. But the fact is that there are many areas that TEA did not address, and we intend to request other state agencies and public officials to scrutinize Harmony’s activity,” Amsterdam said.

Two allegations

The two allegations reviewed by the state include: one that accused Harmony of violating state law by favoring Turkish vendors in violation of open and competitive bidding laws. The other charged that the charter school illegally guaranteed a $7 million bond debt to a Turkish charter school network in Arkansas.

The TEA’s Special Investigations Unit found a minority of vendors working with the school were registered to people with Turkish surnames and the Harris County Department of Education provided oversight over the procurement process. It also found the bond debt guaranteed to Arkansas came from gifts, bequests and miscellaneous local revenue, not state funds, according to the TEA.

Brenda Meyers, director of the Special Investigations Unit, concluded the complaint “does not warrant a TEA investigation.” The complaint is now closed, according to TEA spokeswoman Lauren Callahan.

Amsterdam said he plans to continue criticizing the charter school network, namely by approaching other state officials. He said the TEA failed to investigate his other allegations, such as favoring Turkish males in hiring decisions, abusing the H-1B visa program to bring Turkish nationals to the state to teach and discriminating against students with disabilities.

Officials at Harmony Public Schools argue the Turkish government is on a political witch hunt. The claim rehashes old criticisms of the school that have either been debunked or addressed.

“Unfortunately, we expect these unwarranted attacks to continue, but we are heartened by the enormous support we continue to receive from our alumni, parents, and community and state leaders as we defend the integrity of our public school system,” said Peggy England, a spokeswoman for Harmony Public Schools.

Paid by Turkey

Amsterdam is paid at least $50,000 a month to investigate schools with alleged links to Gülen. He began sparing with Harmony last November when he filed a 90-part open records request that included documents on every employee and communication Harmony had with state and federal agencies. The school denied the request, arguing it would cost $690,000 to fetch and review the documents.

“We’ve only just begun,” Amsterdam said.

Source: Houston Chronicle , October 17, 2016


Related News

Bringing Peace While Breaking Fasts

During the month of Ramadan iftars, or fast-breaking meals, are an important way to strengthen relations in the community.

Police raid schools in Diyarbakır where locals go on strike in protest of recent gov’t practices

Police officers and inspectors carried out raids on a number of schools inspired by the faith-based Gülen movement as part of a government-led operation against the movement in southeastern province of Diyarbakır, where people have gone on strike in protest of the government’s recent practices in the province.

Symposium concludes: Hizmet (Gulen) Movement Contributes to World Peace

Professors said that Hizmet is an anti-violence group that uses education and dialogue to achieve its goals. One of the highlights of the symposium was Dr. Martha Kirk’s presentation called Iraqi Women of Three Generations. There are 32 Hizmet schools in Iraq and she said these institutions teach Iraqi women self confidence.

Afghan-Turkish schools win six medals at int’l olympiad

Afghan-Turkish schools, established by Turkish entrepreneurs affiliated with Hizmet Movement, won six medals – four golden and two silver – at an international olympiad.

Turkish gov’t profiling went on until 2013, report claims

The Turkish government profiled a large number of individuals whom it believed to be followers of certain religious and faith-based groups and monitored their activities up until 2013, a Turkish daily reported on Monday. According to the report, the profiling of individuals did not end in 2010 as previously claimed, but it continued between 2011 […]

Interview about Hizmet Movment at Maxwell School of Syracuse University

Tosca Bruno-Van Vijfeijken, Director of  Transnational NGO Initiative at Maxwell School of Syracuse University inteviewd Dr. Alp Aslandogan, President of the Alliance for Shared Values. This interview took place before Dr. Aslandogan’s lecture at Maxwell School on Hizmet Movement on September 22, 2015.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Kimse Yok Mu extends helping hand to Haitian orphans

How Christians conspired Christian murders in Turkey

Gov’t steps up campaign against Hizmet via terrorism accusations

Turkish-Jordanian relations discussed in Istanbul

Rumi Forum to bestow Peace and Dialogue Awards

Ankara assassination: Why Erdogan blames the Gulenists and ignores the jihadists

Hate speech creates new opportunities for Hizmet movement

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News