Wrong Person Takes the Fall — Another Gulen Situation

Jul 22, 2011 by

Donna Garner

Andrew Vanacore, a reporter for the Louisiana Times-Picayune, wrote another disturbing article yesterday about the Gulen Turkish charter schools in his state. It seems that Folwell Dunbar, who worked for the Louisiana State Department of Education and who blew the whistle on the terrible conditions at the Turkish Abramson Science and Technology Charter School, has been fired.

(To learn more of the backstory, please go to “Another Turkish Charter School in Trouble” — 7.17.11: http://educationviews.org/2011/07/17/5358/ )

Here is a summary up to this point:

Abramson Science and Technology Charter School is tied to Pelican Education Foundation which is tied to the Cosmos Foundation. Cosmos operates 36 Turkish Gulen charter schools in Texas. Cosmos is tied to Fethullah Gulen who is an Islamist imam.

Atlas Texas Construction and Trading is a Turkish company in Houston, Texas, that has won many contracts from Cosmos Foundation. It was an executive from Atlas Texas who allegedly tried to bribe Folwell Dunbar with $25,000 to get him to cover up the serious problems at Abramson.

Today we learn that Folwell Dunbar and his boss at the charter school office have been fired by the Louisiana Superintendent of Schools.

Evidently after Hurricane Katrina, the charter school movement really blossomed in New Orleans, and over half the children in New Orleans now attend charter schools. A board (BESE) is charged with handling the charter schools.

Reading between the lines, it sounds to me as if Folwell Dunbar has been designated as “the fall guy.” He dutifully reported the alleged bribe and the many problems he had found at Abramson on his two different site visits. Folwell gave his report to his two superiors (Kevin Guitterez and Chris Meyer) who then reported to their boss, Paul Pastorek, the Louisiana State Superintendent of Schools. It appears that Pastorek gave the BESE board a superficial version of the Abramson problems and then left the Department for a job in private industry.

Now that the alleged rape at Abramson has been discovered and the bad press is mounting, the acting Louisiana State Superintendent, Ollie Tyler, decided to fire the whistleblower (Folwell Dunbar) since Pastorek, who is probably the one who let the incidents at Abramson fall through the cracks, has flown the coop.

I believe that Folwell Dunbar can surely find a more supportive place to work, but it does not seem fair to me that the whistleblower is the one who got fired while the people who overlooked this Turkish school’s foibles is allowed to escape scrutiny. I suggest that BESE take a long-and-hard look at all the Turkish schools tied to Gulen/Cosmos/Pelican/Atlas.

After all, these Gulen schools are using our taxpayers’ dollars and need to be scrutinized very carefully particularly because of the many allegations that are surfacing all around the country — e.g., a system of questionable test scores, lies and intimidation from the Turkish charter school administrators, free trips to Turkey with an emphasis on the Gulen Movement, charter school teachers from Turkey who speak very little English, indoctrination of students into Turkish culture and theopolitical ties, cheating on science projects, financial ties across state lines among Turkish entities, etc.

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