Concept Schools, Gulen Charter Schools Midwest operations

Concept Schools, Gulen Charter Schools Midwest operations
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Concept Schools (Horizon Science Academy) hired felon, unqualified administrators

Progress Ohio has reported that in Columbus, Ohio's Horizon Science Academy refused Muhammet "Matt" Yildiz a teaching license after learning he was arrested for leaving his 1 year old in the car while shopping.  The article below for Harmony Science Academy tells of a similar incidence in the Gulen Movement's Texas schools
Concept Schools Hired Felon, Unqualified Administrators
New Evidence of Test Tampering Surfaces
COLUMBUS — In 2002, state regulators refused Muhammet “Matt” Yildiz a teaching license after learning that he left his 1-year-old in a car while he went shopping. In 2010, the Ohio Department of Education gave him a principal’s license to run a Columbus middle school.
In 2006, a Dayton school put a convicted felon in charge of student discipline.
And the Dean of Students at a Cleveland school had “no educational certifications or experience,” according to a federal judge.
In each instance, the hires were made by institutions managed by Concept Schools, the Chicago-based non-profit that manages charter schools with ties to Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.
FBI raids of Concept schools in Ohio and two other states, coupled with explosive testimony from teachers who worked for Gulen-affiliated schools in Ohio, have the schools’ aggressive marketing experts working overtime to insist the schools are top-notch academic institutions and the critics who say otherwise are engaged in what one called “a smear campaign.”
ProgressOhio Executive Director Brian Rothenberg, a leading critic of the schools, released a report Monday that raises new, more serious questions about the schools’ hiring practices and teaching methods.
The report, Concept Schools: Poor Results, Worse Oversightalso adds to the growing evidence that Horizon schools have tampered with standardized testing or used other nefarious means to try and improve their academic ratings.
A PDF copy of the study is available online here.
A man who puts his own child in danger has no right to run a primary school,” Rothenberg said.  “Concept needs to stop insisting its schools are well run and focus instead on either fixing the problems or closing its doors.”
Amy Britton-Laidman, a former administrative assistant from Cleveland’s Noble Academy, said the school routinely found reasons to expel some of the worst-performing students before standardized tests were to take place.  And although the school is supposed to take all students, she said it used entrance exams to cherry pick higher-achieving students, then lied to parents of low-achieving students by saying the school had a waiting list.
Her comments follow reports of routine test tampering at the Horizon Science Academy of Dayton, and a study suggesting test tampering at Horizon’s Columbus high school.
Ohio is home to 19 Gulen-affiliated schools that market themselves as preparing students for college by emphasizing math and science.
Despite the emphasis on college preparation, just 2 of the 19 schools – high schools in Cleveland and Columbus — received an A rating for meeting 9 of 10 performance standards, according to state report cards released last week.  Both schools received an F the previous year.
Another key measurement of a high school’s success is whether it graduates students within four years.  All of Horizon’s high schools received a D or F grade for four-year graduation rates, new state report cards show.

Harmony Parent the TRUTH: Harmony Science Academies hired Math Teacher that ...

Harmony Parent the TRUTH: Harmony Science Academies hired Math Teacher that ...: Recently t...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gulen Schools in Chicago DENIED because of unsuitable conditions of buildings.

Standing water from a leaky roof.
Visible mold and a pungent smell that hangs in the air.
Floor tiles made of asbestos.

Those were just some of the problems Concept Schools had to contend with before getting a school building near Chatham ready for kids next month after scrambling to find a new location this summer, according to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett last week announced she’s not letting the school open because the South Side building, which once housed a private school, won’t be ready for students next month.
“Mold is visibly evident throughout many of the classrooms. The mold and mildew is so bad, that a handful of the classrooms cannot be accessed due to the noxious, overwhelming, suffocating scent,” an inspector wrote for CPS officials in July.
The property that was to house Concept Schools’ Horizon Science Academy-Clay Evans is made up of two buildings. One of the buildings is in “dire condition” mostly because of a leaking roof, the inspector wrote.
“Water infiltration is so prevalent throughout most of the classrooms there is standing water, both on the floor and in the light fixtures in the ceiling,” according to the inspection report. “Carpets in many of the classrooms are soaking wet, and tiles in specific communal areas are peeling. The majority of the acoustical ceiling tiles have been removed or fallen to the floor. Mold is visibly evident throughout many of the classrooms.”
The other building is in “fair” condition, he wrote, recommending cosmetic changes and accessibility upgrades.
Additionally, asbestos material was found in some of the flooring and it had to be removed and replaced.
The roof also had to be fixed, records show.
“Concept Schools, which our board had approved, has been unable to secure a safe and viable facility for the Clay Evans campus and so we will not be allowing the school to open for very obvious reasons — there’s no facility,” Byrd-Bennett said Thursday.
“We thought we could make the necessary investments,” Concept Vice President Salim Ucan said Friday.
The charter school planned to open in September and use just one of the buildings while work was finished by October, records show.
Now Ucan said the focus is finding schools for more than 400 enrolled children and 40 teachers and administrators hired to staff the Clay Evans campus.
“We are working with the area charter schools to see if they have openings for the respective grades,” he said. “We are trying to see if we can transfer them to our existing schools.”
Concept, whose Des Plaines headquarters were raided by the FBI in June, lost out on its first facility, a building owned by an arm of a church headed by the Rev. Charles Jenkins.
It then proposed the former school building location, which is being foreclosed on by Urban Partnership Bank. David Vitale, the president of the Chicago Board of Education, is chairman of that bank.
Chantay Moore had shed tears of joy, relieved to have a new charter school open near her South Side home.
But on Thursday, Moore was anything but happy when she learned the charter school operated by beleaguered Concept Schools won’t be allowed to open next month near Chatham.
The building that was to house Concept Schools’ Horizon Science Academy-Clay Evans will not be ready for the first day of school, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said Thursday. 

“Concept Schools, which our board had approved, has been unable to secure a safe and viable facility for the Clay Evans campus and so we will not be allowing the school to open for very obvious reasons — there’s no facility,” Byrd-Bennett said.
The decision — first reported by Early & Often — was made after Concept, whose Des Plaines headquarters were raided by the FBI in June, lost out on its first facility, a building owned by an arm of a church headed by the Rev. Charles Jenkins.
The second facility chosen for the school at 9130 S. Vincennes needs to be renovated and won’t be ready next month, Byrd-Bennett said. At this point, a lease for the former private school building has not yet been signed, said Jack Elsey, who heads the department that oversees charters for CPS.
Concept Schools officials, in an emailed statement, said they have gone to “great lengths to prepare this location for families in the Chatham community.”
“Though our original site plans changed, we quickly identified this location and moved forward with numerous structural, security and safety upgrades at the school to ensure a successful start to the school year,” the statement said. “We share the same disappointment our parents have expressed with the decision made by CPS. We are even more disappointed that this decision impacts students and families just days before the school year begins.”
The FBI investigation, which federal documents show is focused on many of the politically connected charter-school operator’s top administrators and companies with close ties to it, had nothing to do with the district’s decision to scratch the school, Byrd-Bennett said. Concept’s charter has not been revoked and the South Side school has simply been “delayed” for likely a year, she said. No other Concept campuses are affected by CPS’ decision to scratch the Clay Evans campus.
But local Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) said the federal investigation “clearly had to weigh into” it.
“It’s a combination of everything. The plug was pulled from Pastor Jenkins’ location because of the investigation and I don’t know that they ever had enough time to recover and find another location that would be suitable,” Brookins said.
Concept Vice President Salim Ucan said earlier this week that Jenkins’ location was scrapped because Concept couldn’t finish the renovations in time for school.
The second location, on Vincennes, generated controversy after the Sun-Times reported earlier this month that David Vitale, the president of the Chicago Board of Education, runs a bank that would have benefitted if Concept had opened the school in that building.
Vitale is chairman of Urban Partnership Bank, which has filed suit to foreclose on the building. The building’s owners owe Vitale’s bank $2 million, court records show.
A CPS spokesman has said Vitale was not involved in the selection of the property.
Meanwhile, CPS staffers will notify the parents of the more than 400 kids enrolled in the school about the scrapped plan and will help parents find other school options, Byrd-Bennett said.
Brookins said he has been assured that the displaced students will be offered the chance to return to their original public schools. If that’s not acceptable, CPS will work with families to find an acceptable alternative, he said. “There were concerns that Concept didn’t have their act together going forward. It’s best that CPS get out ahead of it if they weren’t going to be ready and assist those kids to get into a school of their choice so they can start on the first day of school and have no interruption, he said.
On Thursday afternoon, Moore said she had not yet heard from the district.
She said she spent the last year trying to find an alternative to the private school her 5-year-old daughter had been attending.
“I can’t afford the tuition any longer,” said Moore, 30. “To have this option taken away again, what am I to do?”
Avalon Collier, who was hoping to send her 8-year-old grandson to the Clay Evans campus, said she’ll try to get him enrolled into CICS Longwood, the charter school he attended last year, though the commute is inconvenient and that school has already started its year.
“It’s horrible,” the 65-year-old grandmother said when she learned the Concept School won’t open. “I’m going to call his school to see if they’ll take him back. If not, I won’t have another alternative but to put him back in the neighborhood school. I would hate to do that; he did so well in the other school.”
Concept, which also plans to open a new charter in Gage Park for the coming school year, operates three other charter schools in Chicago that serve about 1,275 students. As with other charter schools in Chicago, they are funded with CPS tax funds.

Gulen operated Quest Charter Academy part of FBI raid attempts charter renewal

PEORIA — As Quest Charter Academy begins the re-application process to extend its five-year contract with Peoria School District 150, the charter school board is grappling with declining enrollments in its upper grade levels.
Total enrollment is 499, Principal Ali Kuran reported at Tuesday’s board meeting. The school’s budget and reimbursements from District 150 are based on an enrollment of 525. Seven more students may enroll soon, Kuran said.
“So we’ll be 20 students short, that’s $160,000,” said board Chairman Glen Barton, estimating the amount of state funding that could be lost as a result. District 150 passes on a portion of its state funding to the charter school, based on enrollment.
The enrollment figures sparked a discussion among the charter school board members about the reasons students leave as they reach the high school level and how it can be remedied.
Quest’s enrollment goal is 75 students a class in grades fifth through 11th. The 10th-grade class currently has 60 students and the 11th-grade class has 45. Opened in 2010, plans evolved to add a grade each year until Quest had 650 students, from fifth to 12th grades, spread over two buildings.
Though the school has a waiting list of students who would like to attend, it does not accept students in the 10th and 11th grades, where the shortages are. When board member Tom Fliege suggested revisiting that rule and possibly admitting more students in the upper grades, others reminded him that students can only be admitted through a lottery.
“If we’re going to be creative, we have to be creative in a way that doesn’t mess with the culture of the school,” warned board member Kristie Hubbard, adding that students who may want to transfer to Quest in high school already may have been struggling in other high schools.
The enrollment drop also means the board’s finance committee must revise the five-year projections included in the application renewal to District 150. Academic achievement, the additional cost of maintaining two schools and technological upgrades also will be key features in the final application to extend the school’s charter for another five years.
Board members also discussed the new agreement with Illinois Central Bus Co., which includes using school property for bus parking and providing office space within the school. The board previously approved a contract with Illinois Central for nine buses at $285 a day per bus, a jump from the $250 a day the board had budgeted for transportation — and a much bigger jump than the $150 a day Quest paid Illinois Central last year.
Another school bus has been donated to the school by an anonymous benefactor, Barton announced.
Read more:

Horizon charter schools no longer can be protected, they are exposed GULEN

Sabrina Joy Stevens is the executive director of the national nonprofit advocacy organization Integrity In Education.
Charter schools were originally conceptualized as a small-scale experiment, where administrators, parents, teachers and students could come together and try innovative approaches to educate local students. Sadly, in recent years, this idea has been overshadowed by the private interests of a charter school industry now rife with fraud, waste and abuse.
In Southwest Ohio, it’s been no different. In June, as reported by The Enquirer, the FBI raided Horizon Science Academy as part of an ongoing investigation into its improper relationships with technology vendors.
In 2009, a state audit of Horizon Cincinnati warned that questionable financial practices could result "in more than a remote likelihood that the School's internal control will not prevent or detect a material financial statement misstatement." Yet, for unknown reasons, nothing was done and the school just kept on trucking forward.
Horizon is part of Chicago-based Concept Schools, which has 19 different campuses in Ohio, 6,700 students and has taken a whopping $48.5 million in taxpayer money, including $3.3 million for the Cincinnati Horizon School. All of Concept’s schools are currently being investigated by the State Department of Education and Auditor Dave Yost for “alleged sexual misconduct and tampering with test and attendance records.”
Under what circumstances should such malfeasance be tolerated? With both student safety and considerable sums of taxpayer money at stake, how could any lawmaker justify not taking immediate action to curb the potential for more such abuses?
A partial answer to these questions might be found in a different charter industry conflict, and the silence of influential politicians like Attorney General Mike DeWine. Quietly, as a battle between the for-profit White Hat Charter Management Co. and the state over who gets to keep and should pay for equipment such as computers and textbooks purchased with taxpayer money makes its way to the Supreme Court, DeWine has made himself scarce.
Yet, two years ago, when White Hat first made this argument, DeWine rightly called it “bad public policy,” even going so far as to accuse them of trying to violate Ohio law. But something changed, and DeWine’s seemingly principled advocacy for Ohio taxpayers vs. corporate greed somehow became worthy of abandonment.
What could have happened to so change his outlook?
Interestingly, White Hat’s owner is Akron-based industrialist David Brennan. He gave large donations to both DeWine and the Summit County Republican Party’s candidate fund, from which DeWine received hundreds of thousands of dollars, including $95,000 in 2013 and $40,000 in April.
So, to get this straight, a major DeWine donor stands to gain millions by winning a Supreme Court case, and Ohioans stand to lose millions in public funds. With this equation in mind, suddenly DeWine has other things to do with his time than protect Ohio taxpayers. Meanwhile, as Ohio’s charter schools close at a record rate, and the very same Ohio taxpayers are owed $31 million dollars, DeWine has only collected $500,000 of it, or 1.6 percent.
Elected officials such as the attorney general need to do their jobs to protect students and taxpayers, regardless of the ideological preferences of their donors or potential to profit. Ohioans, like all Americans, deserve a public school system that works, isn’t rigged to enrich the few at the expense of the many, and is run honestly and transparently.
In Ohio, this is one test that DeWine and the charter school industry have both failed.