Oakland, California, has a Gulen problem.

One of its charter schools is a Gulen affiliate, meaning that it has a shadowy connection to a shadowy figure who is an imam who lives in seclusion in the Poconos Mountains in Pennsylvania.

The imam Fethullah Gullen has the same shadowy association with nearly 200 charter schools, meaning his Gulen movement is collecting hundreds of millions of dollars to run “public” schools in which most of the board and teachers are Turkish. The current authoritarian ruler of Turkey, Recip Erdogan, once Gullen’s ally, blames Gulen for a failed coup and wants him extradited. The U.S. is protecting him. That’s okay, but why is this Turkish national running American “public” schools. He used to give free trips to Turkey to key legislators in states like Ohio and Texas, but he can’t do that anymore since Turkey no longer welcomes him or his movement.

Oakland has at least one Gulen school, called BayTech. The principal (Turkish, of course) revised his contract so that he could collect $450,000 if and when he left, and he quit and took off for Australia with $450,000 of taxpayer dollars.

Now the Oakland school board is scrambling to save the school.

Amid a management crisis and allegations of fraud at Oakland’s BayTech charter school, the Oakland Unified School District is exploring the possibility of appointing an independent director to the school’s board. State law allows public school districts to make board appointments to charter schools under their supervision. BayTech has also hired Kathleen Daugherty, a retired superintendent from Sacramento who runs an education consulting firm, to assist with the school’s recovery. Classes began on Monday at BayTech, even though the school’s principal and several other senior administrators all abruptly quit at the end of the last school year.
Meanwhile, OUSD is continuing to investigate allegations that the school’s former principal, Hayri Hatipoglu, defrauded BayTech by modifying his employment contract to obtain a lucrative three-year payout, instead of a standard six-month severance package. BayTech’s three current board members, Fatih Dagdelen, Kairat Sabyrov, and Volkan Ulukoylu, allege that Hatipoglu made the contract modification without their knowledge.

But Hatipoglu wrote in an email to the Express that the allegations are untrue and have unfairly damaged his reputation.

“This allegation is such a big lie that even OUSD, CSMC (BayTech back office) would be able to refute that immediately as they can view/have access to school finances,” Hatipoglu wrote.

OUSD hasn’t commented about the school’s situation or the allegations against Hatipoglu except to confirm several weeks ago that the district is conducting an investigation. School district records show that OUSD has obtained detailed financial information from BayTech.

As is usual in a Gulen school, the management is Turkish.

The article goes on to explain that the school required its student to buy uniforms from a Turkish-owned vendor.

Hatipoglu has maintained in emails sent to the Express that Sabyrov’s allegations are false, and that he is instead being retaliated against for breaking ties with the Accord Institute.

Accord is a nonprofit that was founded by members of the Gülen movement, a Turkish religious sect run by the elderly imam Fethullah Gülen.

In an email sent over the weekend, Hatipoglu wrote that Sabyrov, who is originally from Kyrgyzstan and BayTech’s two Turkish board members are part of a “shady network that is exploiting the school’s resources.”

Hatipoglu didn’t specifically identify this “shady network,” but BayTech’s links to followers of Fethullah Gülen are well-known. The school was founded by Gülen movement members, including the current CEO of the Accord Institute, and BayTech has contracted with several companies that are suspected of being owned and operated by Gülenists. BayTech also paid the Accord Institute about $70,000 a year for various education training services.

Why is the school board trying to keep this Gulen school afloat?

Given the allegations of fraud and mismanagement, why doesn’t the board return the school and the students to the public schools?

Sharon Higgins, an Oakland parent who has been tracking the Gulen movement for years, says that Oakland taxpayers are funding the Gulenists.