Sunday, July 17, 2016

Why should Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen operate charter schools on U.S. Military bases?

 Who would have thought that an attempted coup in Turkey would be a wake-up call about private charter schools in the US? Fethullah Gulen's religious movement, also known as Hizmet, may have taken time out from building charter schools to help foment the attempted coup in Turkey.

When moderation masks a radical agenda
By Abraham R. Wagner
Washington Times
 January 21, 2016

 No one everwants a Cosby moment, a moment when all of one’s suspected bad deeds are exposed to the world. Fettulah Gulen, the undisputable leader of the Gulen Movement was recently provided such a Cosby Moment, compliments of the FBI. Mr. Gulen, a Muslim cleric from Turkey, with an elementary education only, is a mysterious fellow.

In cables divulged by WikiLeaks, the U.S. Department of State described Mr. Gulen as “a ‘radical Islamist’ whose moderate message cloaks a more sinister and radical agenda.” He is reputed to be worth roughly $25 billion, although no one seems to know from where he earned this tidy sum. Most notably and despite the Department of State’s perspective, he espouses principles of tolerance and multiculturalism.

Yet upon deeper investigation, he is a true, dyed-in-the-wool Islamist who wishes to transform the United States and Turkey into Shariah states. Mr. Gulen lives in the United States in self-imposed exile, a seat from which he runs a vast and questionable network of charter schools and overlapping nonprofit organizations and businesses, and, as evidence presented in U.S. and Turkish courts shows, actively agitates and plots the overthrow of the democratically-elected government in Turkey, one of the few stable allies the United States possesses in the Middle East, a NATO-member and the lynchpin to defeating ISIS and to bringing peace to Iraq and Syria.

 As the proprietor of the largest network of charter schools in the United States, Mr. Gulen receives hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Active investigations into the financial malfeasance of the Gulen schools are ongoing in Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Ohio and other states, this, in addition to an active investigation by the FBI. According to state and local law enforcement reports, the Gulen Movement, in collusion with various nonprofit organizations and companies directly linked to the Gulen Movement, are playing a sort of shell game with taxpayer funds. Gulen schools pay high rental fees on properties owned by Mr. Gulen, construction and renovations of Gulen facilities are performed by Gulen businesses and vast sums are spent on facilitating the entry of young Turkish men to the United States...

Why should Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen operate charter schools on U.S. Military bases?
March 31, 2016
The Hill

A secretive Islamic movement is trying to infiltrate the U.S. military by establishing and operating publicly-funded charter schools targeted toward children of American service personnel.

That charge may sound like a conspiracy theory from the lunatic fringe, but it is real and it is happening right now.  The most immediate threat is in Nevada, where Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas (CASLV) is currently negotiating with the United States Air Force to locate a charter school at Nellis Air Force Base, with classes starting this fall.  What is not widely known is that CASLV is part of a nationwide organization of charter schools and other businesses headed by Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, a reclusive but influential Imam living under self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania to avoid criminal prosecution in his native Turkey.

Our law firm has been engaged by the Republic of Turkey – a key NATO ally in a hotbed region – to conduct a wide-ranging investigation into the operations and geopolitical influence of the Gülen organization, which is behind the Coral Academy of Science and over 140 other public charter schools scattered across 26 American states.  Our investigation, still in its early stages, reveals that the Gülen organization uses charter schools and affiliated businesses in the U.S. to misappropriate and launder state and federal education dollars, which the organization then uses for its own benefit to develop political power in this country and globally...

Robert R. Amsterdam is founder of Amsterdam and Partners LLP, an international law firm based in Washington, DC and London.

What We Don't Know About Gulen-Linked Charter Schools, And Why That's a Problem
 Jersey Jazzman
 July 16, 2016

This week's attempted coup in Turkey will inevitably turn the spotlight on Fethullah Gulen -- the primary political rival of Turkish President Erdogan -- who lives in seclusion in Pennsylvania. Gulen is linked to a network of over 160 charter schools operating across the country, including several in New Jersey that Governor Chris Christie has recently praised...
- A USA Today investigation found that Gulen-linked organizations paid for Congressional members and staff to travel to Turkey at least 214 times. Expenses total at least $800,000, but that figure is likely understated because it does not include in-country expenses.

Given what's just happened, this lack of transparency is a real problem for our country's national security. If, in fact, Hizmet was one of the driving forces behind the attempted coup, the United States may well be complicit in allowing a charter network to grow in this country that provided de facto support for the attempted overthrow of one of our NATO allies' governments.

I don't have any expertise in Turkish politics. By most accounts, Erdogan is not a friend of democracy and freedom of the press, and that's very troubling. And Gulen denies any involvement with the coup attempt, even though Erdogan is now saying the US risks its continuing alliance with Turkey if it continues to harbor him.

At this point, we must ask: Has it been in America's best geopolitical interest to prop up Erdogan's primary political foe by allowing an aligned network of charter schools to grow across the country? Has the risk been worth what are, at best, marginal gains in test scores for student populations that, at least here in New Jersey, look nothing like the populations of their hosting public school districts?...

Monday, July 11, 2016

Why Poway Unified Fired Its Superintendent

Superintendent John Collins and the Poway Unified Board got along very well with Poway Federations of Teachers and its president Candace Smiley, even when the district notoriously took on $1 billion dollars of debt in CAB bonds.

Why Poway Unified Fired Its Superintendent

The Poway Unified School District board believes former Superintendent John Collins, who was fired Sunday, took hundreds of thousands of dollars in unauthorized pay, according to dismissal charges obtained by Voice of San Diego and an audit report released by the district Monday.

According to the documents, Collins was also censured for filing litigation without the school board’s approval, and for interfering with the district’s investigation into his financial dealings.

The board could ask a court to force Collins to pay back as much as $345,000 – the amount forensic auditors flagged as unauthorized pay...

See more

Friday, July 08, 2016

Lawsuit Claims SDCOE Supt. Randy Ward Took Thousands in Illegal Pay

Lawsuit Claims County Superintendent Took Thousands in Illegal Pay
A taxpayer group is suing county superintendent of schools Randy Ward, claiming he illegally paid himself as much as $100,000 in recent years, and doled out improper pay to his top staffers.

The lawsuit – filed Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court by the California Taxpayers Action Network, represented by San Diego attorney Cory Briggs – takes aim at several aspects of Ward’s compensation, including so-called “me-too” raises they say violate strict state conflict-of-interest laws.

Ward has served as the top executive of the San Diego County Office of Education since June 2006, and his pay has put him among the highest compensated K-12 public school employees in the state.

In June 2013, the elected five-member board added language to Ward’s contract that let him collect the same raises teachers get as long as he earned a satisfactory performance evaluation.

In June 2014, the board did away with the evaluation requirement and gave him the same raises as teachers automatically, without consideration of his performance. As a result, that year, Ward received a 5.1 percent raise worth $14,535, and has continued to receive guaranteed raises matching teachers ever since.

Me-too clauses can be legal, but California laws generally prohibit self-dealing to ensure that government officials’ responsibility to negotiate salaries in the best interest of taxpayers isn’t compromised by a personal financial incentive.

Since Ward negotiates with the teacher’s union and helps decide what raises teachers get, his actions could be considered self-dealing. If deemed illegal in court, at least $70,000 in payments could be voided and ordered repaid to the agency.

Another bone of contention raised in the lawsuit deals with an earlier raise granted to Ward before the “me-too” raises were put in place.

In 2008, the board gave Ward a 3.8 percent raise, but he postponed taking it. Then, two years later, he retroactively authorized it via an interoffice memorandum to the business department causing a windfall of up to $31,400.

Staff did not respond to questions asking whether the move could have spiked his pension – or improperly boosted his retirement benefits in violation of state rules. The impact on Ward’s pension is not discussed in the lawsuit.

The California Constitution generally prohibits non-union employees like Ward from getting paid long after work was performed, so the belated me-too pay bumps are also unconstitutional, the nonprofit taxpayer group says.

The lawsuit also names the County Office of Education’s longtime chief business officer, Lora Duzyk, claiming she too acted illegally and abused her office.

“Defendant Ward has no legal right to accept retroactive pay increases, and none of the Defendants has the legal authority to increase their compensation without first obtaining the BoE’s (board) approval,” the lawsuit says.

The group contends the board’s action adding me-too raises to Ward’s contract doesn’t mean the payments were legal.

A recent salary bump for Ward of 4 percent that took effect July 1 brought his base salary to $331,736 and is also being questioned by the group. Voice of San Diego also asked the County Office of Education for an explanation of the recent raise and has not yet heard back.

Ward just began the final year of a three-year superintendent employment contract that expires July 1, 2017.

Ward and Duzyk did not immediately respond to requests for comment...

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Who tells the truth? Disgruntled ex-employees like Gretchen Carlson of Fox News

Lawyers will tell you to ignore the blatherings of "disgruntled ex-employees". But who else will tell the truth? People trying to keep their jobs and their social standing in the workplace almost never expose dirty linen voluntarily, and often won't do it even when they are under oath.
Even retired people, who no longer need to fear the loss of their jobs, usually don't want to tell the truth if it reflects badly on their former employer.

I remember in the Danielle Coziahr v. CVESD case, the judge had to forcefully demand that a retired teacher show up as a witness. The testimony the teacher was afraid to give was hugely supportive of Cozaihr, who won a $1 million judgment. The witness was retired, but still reluctant to step out of line.

Gretchen Carlson of Fox News Files Suit Against Roger Ailes, Alleging Harassment
Gretchen Carlson, the longtime Fox anchor, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday saying that Roger Ailes, the powerful chairman of Fox News, fired her from the network last month after she refused his sexual advances and complained to him about discriminatory treatment in the newsroom.
The startling accusations immediately transfixed the world of television news, where Mr. Ailes is a hugely influential figure known for demanding absolute loyalty from his employees.

The lawsuit — filed in Superior Court in New Jersey, where Mr. Ailes maintains a residence — portrays the Fox chairman as a loutish and serial sexual harasser, accusing him of ogling Ms. Carlson in his office, calling her “sexy” and making sexually charged comments about her physical appearance.

Ms. Carlson, who joined Fox in 2005, contends that during a meeting last fall to discuss her concerns that she was not being treated fairly, Mr. Ailes told her: “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better.”

When she rebuffed him, the lawsuit claims, Mr. Ailes retaliated by reducing Ms. Carlson’s salary, curtailing her on-air appearances and, to her surprise, declining to renew her contract last month.
In a statement issued Wednesday evening through Fox News, Mr. Ailes rebuffed Ms. Carlson’s accusations. “Gretchen Carlson’s allegations are false,’’ he said, calling it “a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract.’’

“Ironically, FOX News provided her with more on-air opportunities over her 11 year tenure than any other employer in the industry, for which she thanked me in her recent book,’’ he wrote. “This defamatory lawsuit is not only offensive, it is wholly without merit and will be defended vigorously.”...