Two months after lawyers for the Republic of Turkey filed a complaint with the Texas Education Agency against Harmony Public Schools, a high-ranking state representative has asked the Texas Attorney General’s office to investigate the allegations lobbed against the state’s largest charter school network.
"If the facts are correct, Texas taxpayers are in fact in danger and our education system, not to mention the safety of our citizens, seems to be in peril," wrote Rep. Dan Flynn, a Canton Republican who chairs the House Pensions Committee, in a letter released Wednesday urging Ken Paxton’s office to investigate the charges or turn them over to the Texas Rangers.
A Paxton spokeswoman said she could not confirm or deny if the office had launched a probe.
In May, London-based Amsterdam & Partners filed a complaint with the state education agency alleging Harmony routinely discriminates against special needs and bilingual students, pays Turkish-born teachers — including males — more than their American counterparts, misuses the H-1B Visa program, violates competitive bidding laws and misuses state and federal funds.
Harmony officials have said the allegations — ones the Houston-based charter network has faced before — are unsubstantiated and that the complaint is a politically motivated attack.
A Harmony spokesman declined to comment Wednesday. An education agency spokeswoman said the complaint, including a supplementary one filed earlier this month, are still under review.
The Republic of Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is severing ties with old allies and waging a well-documentedwar against critics, hired Amsterdam last fall “to conduct a global investigation into the activities of the organization led by moderate Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen,” according to the law firm's website. Gülen, a former Erdogan ally, is a reclusive Turkish expatriate living in Pennsylvania whom news reports have linked to Harmony and other U.S. charter schools.
Harmony officials have vehemently denied any connection to Gülen.
Flynn described Amsterdam as a “legitimate group” in an interview Wednesday, noting that he has heard complaints against Harmony for years and also traveled to Turkey on a legislative trip. He described himself as a great supporter of charter schools, but noted some in his district have had issues and been forced to close.