Open letter to LAUSD Board Members on nonrenewal of Magnolia Charter Schools

October 17, 2016

To the Honorable LAUSD Members of the Board of Education:

It has come to our attention that on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 you will be voting on whether or not to renew three of the Magnolia Charter schools which are run by the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.  We have learned that Magnolia Charter Schools, despite being funded with public dollars has refused to operate with transparency and has ignored calls for release of financial documents to the Board.  We also understand from the recent October 12 LA Times article that Magnolia has relied heavily on using temporary work visas to bring Turkish teachers, which L.A. Unified estimates the total cost to be about $929,000. This lack of transparency, misuse of taxpayers dollars, and importing of labor from Turkey during difficult economic times here in the US are reasons enough for voting against the renewal of the three Magnolia Schools’ charters.

However, added to all of this, is that Magnolia Charter Schools are used as places to teach intolerance against the Armenian community.  As we all know Mr. Gulen certainly has his differences with the current Turkish government, however one area in which Mr. Gulen and his Magnolia Charter Schools are in agreement is with the official Turkish government’s position to deny the Armenian Genocide. And this is coming not just from the Turkish national teachers, but from their US citizen teachers as well. We saw an example of this at the LAUSD Board of Education meeting in August of 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Sn1chr9zbA in which Brandon Fletcher unabashedly announced to the Board, that as a Social Studies teacher of Magnolia Science Academy #1 in Reseda, he teaches that the Armenian Genocide is a "controversial" subject and that he makes sure to provide the Ottoman’s point of view.

As you may recall in 2011, another Los Angeles area Gulen organization, the Pacifica Institute, decided to organize an Ottoman parade to march through Little Armenia, until it was stopped by outrage from the Armenian Community. You can read the LA Times coverage here:  http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/30/local/la-me-0930-ottoman-band-20110930

Who would refer to the Holocaust as "controversial" and insist on teaching about it from the Nazi’s perspective? This is both unconscionable and deeply offensive. To treat any other genocide in the same way is equally offensive. With all of this in mind, we respectfully request that you vote against the renewal of the Magnolia Charter Schools.


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