World Bulletin / News Desk
A U.S. Congressman has inquired about the Department of Education's involvement in FBI investigations into charter schools linked to Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen.
Arizona Representative Raul M. Grijalva made the demand in a letter dated Nov. 3 to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Grijalva asked for a status report from the department of Education over its involvement in the FBI investigation of 19 schools in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio controlled by Concept Charter Schools, a well-known Gulen-linked organization in the U.S.
“I have a particular interest in charter schools operations that are funded by public taxpayer dollars,” the lawmaker said. “I believe that we have an obligation to ensure that no federal funds are being misused in these schools.”
FBI raided the schools in June 2014 and seized the financial and clerical records of executives and their contractors. The Bureau had said that the raid was in connection with an “ongoing white-collar crime matter”.
Noting that there are a number of schools linked to the same organization in his district Tucson, Arizona, Grijalva added that although the investigation is on white collar crime matter it was a "culmination of a years-long federal investigations into complaints filed by whistleblower".
He said that many states have launched an investigation into the contracting practices of the Concept Charter Schools and the FBI investigation has brought specific focus in their use of E-Rate program, which provides federal funds for schools “to expand telecommunication and internet access”.
“Taxpayers deserve to know that federal E-Rate funds are being spent properly and competitive bidding and procurement policies are being followed,” he said.
A recent report by California State Auditor’s office found out that after reviewing 225 vendor transactions some charter schools linked to the same organization, 23 percent of the expenses lacked “either clear authorization or sufficient support for the transactions".
Concept Charter Schools operate more than 130 schools in 25 states in the U.S.