D.C. has approved its first Gulen-connected charter school. Fetullah Gulen is the reclusive Muslim cleric who lives in the Poconos, rus a vast political network in Turkey, and is associated with the largest charter chain in the U.S.

D.C. Chancellor Kaya Henderson is upset because the Gulen Harmony charter has leased a building directly across the street from a traditional public school serving the same age children with the same math-science focus.

“Henderson called Harmony’s move an inefficient use of tax­payer dollars and a sign of a choice that the city is going to have to make: Does the District want to plan for the coexistence of charter schools alongside a system of traditional neighborhood schools? Or does the city want to continue with a laissez-faire approach that Henderson said could give rise to a “cannibalistic environment” in which “somebody gets eaten”?

“Either we want neighborhood schools or we want cannibalism, but you can’t have both,” Henderson said, adding her voice to a growing chorus of people who have called for joint planning between traditional and charter schools and perhaps a limit on the number of independent charter schools in the District.

“A citywide conversation about how many schools do we need, and how do we get to the right number of schools, as opposed to continuing to allow as many schools to proliferate as possible, is probably a necessary conversation to have at some point,” Henderson said.

“Charter schools do not have to specify or propose a location when they apply to the D.C. Public Charter School Board for approval. The board considers applications on their merits, without taking into account the impact on existing schools; once a school is approved, it goes about finding a home, and then must notify the board of its location before opening its doors to students.”