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US: Alabama eyes revoking FETO-linked charter school

Officials deny request for deadline extension to obtain certificate of occupancy for Woodland Prep charter school

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 04.02.2020
US: Alabama eyes revoking FETO-linked charter school

ANKARA

Officials in the U.S. state of Alabama voted to consider withdrawing the right to operate of a public charter school a Texas-based member of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) wants to open.

The Alabama Public Charter School Commission denied a request for a deadline extension to obtain the necessary certificate of occupancy for the school by Woodland Prep officials in a vote Monday, local website AL.com reported.

"Today's vote by the Alabama Public Charter School Commission denied a request by Woodland Prep officials to extend the deadline to obtain a certificate of occupancy for the school. That denial opened the door for the Commission to begin revocation procedures," said the site.

Woodland Prep in Washington County, near the city of Mobile, has been the subject of fierce public opposition since the state approved its charter in May 2018, despite major shortcomings and a lack of educational standards and credentials.

Locals oppose charter school project

In August, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) filed a lawsuit against the controversial school, citing strong public opposition.

The lawsuit claimed that Soner Tarim "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."

Tarim, one of the key figures running FETO's charter school network in the U.S., is the CEO of Unity School Services (USS) in Sugar Land, Texas, which manages Woodland Prep, and he was the founder of Harmony Schools, a charter school network in Texas.

According to an earlier report by the Alabama Reporter magazine: "A copy of the USS contract with the Woodland Prep board shows that Tarim will make 15 percent of all federal, state and local funds received by Woodland. If Woodland’s projected enrollment of 260 students is accurate, Tarim 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 Tarim’s use of the schools to exploit a visa program and skirt hiring laws to give contract jobs to Turkish workers and teachers.

"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 Gulen schools," reported the magazine.

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

FETO and its U.S.-based billionaire leader Gulen, is accused of orchestrating the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Turkey also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

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