The Texas Education Agency has cleared Harmony Public Schools of any wrongdoing after the Turkish government accused Texas’ largest public charter school network of sketchy hiring practices and nepotism in awarding multimillion dollar contracts.
“I have been working with charter schools in Texas for 20 years, and I have never seen anything like this. 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,” said Robert Schulman, counsel for Harmony Public Schools.
Robert Amsterdam, an attorney representing Turkey, filed a 32-page complaint to the TEA in May about the state’s largest public charter school network, whose founders are Turkish-American. The document details accusations of discriminatory employment and unethical contract bidding practices, and ties to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is accused of trying to overthrow the Turkish government.
The TEA released its findings Friday, saying that only two claims warranted an investigation and that the agency couldn’t find any wrongdoing regarding Harmony’s project procurement methods nor did Harmony use Texas public money for an Arkansas charter school network.
Amsterdam said in a news release that he will request other state agencies look at Harmony.
“If the TEA is unable to investigate these egregious abuses by Harmony Public Schools, then we must refer the matter to other state authorities,”
Harmony’s chief executive officer, Soner Tarim, has told the American-Statesman that the charter network — which has 46 campuses in Texas including six in Austin — was unfairly targeted.