State’s investigation into alleged fiscal improprieties was prompted by complaints filed by a Washington-based law firm hired by the Turkish government
TAWNELL D. HOBBS
ARLINGTON, Texas—A Texas state agency has found no wrongdoing in an investigation into alleged fiscal improprieties by Harmony Public Schools, a Houston-based charter-school operator accused of links to a political enemy of the president of Turkey.
A law firm for the Turkish government said the schools are linked to Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Muslim cleric and nemesis of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who blames him for allegedly trying to overthrow the government. Mr. Gulen denies the charges.
The international dispute has played out in U.S. school districts, which have been caught up in a proxy war between the two former allies.
The Texas Education Agency confirmed Monday that allegations of financial mismanagement at the charter-school network are unfounded and said it has closed its investigation.
The probe by the education agency was prompted by a series of complaints filed by a Washington-based law firm hired late last year by the Turkish government.
“The flagrant lies spread by these foreign agents are unconscionable,” Robert Schulman,counsel for Harmony Public Schools, said Monday. “I have been working with charter schools in Texas for 20 years, and I have never seen anything like this.”
But Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Partners, the firm representing the Turkish government, said the education agency didn’t do a thorough job in its investigation—assessing only two of 15 complaints. The agency said in a letter that it lacked jurisdiction to review some of the complaints.
“Gulen has spent a lot of money in Texas,” Mr. Amsterdam said. “This is a coverup; this is a political snow job. We already have the attention of others in Texas who are going to take a much stronger look.”
The firm has filed complaints against charter-school chains in several states, saying they funnel money—through tithes by Turkish employees—to Mr. Gulen.
The complaint filed in Texas included an allegation that Harmony hired Turkish contractors in violation of competitive-bidding requirements and has misused bond money guaranteed by the state of Texas to operate charter schools in Arkansas.
Source: The Wall Street Journal