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Latest Scandal at Gulen-run Charter School in Orlando Underscores Need for Urgent Investigation

The following press release was distributed to media today.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — According to reports aired by local ABC News affiliate WFTV, Abdulaziz Yalcin, the principal of Orlando Science Charter School, has been arrested on two counts of failing to report child abuse. “Mr. Yalcin’s arrest is only the latest in a long series of alleged incidences of abuse, discrimination, and unlawful enrichment taking place at US charter schools linked to the controversial Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen,” says Robert Amsterdam.

The arrest of this individual comes one year after a teacher had been arrested for requesting and sending nude photos of students, according to the WFTV report, while now investigators allege that Mr. Yalcin failed to notify the police and the Florida Department of Children and Families and instead attempted to bury it.

“This kind of reprehensible conduct at this Gulen-linked charter school represents not only a threat to the public safety of the community, but appears again and again across this network – and it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” says Amsterdam, whose law firm Amsterdam & Partners LLP was retained by the government of Turkey to investigate the unlawful dealings of the Fethullah Gulen charter school organization. “In light of Mr. Yalcin’s alleged conduct, we strongly urge the board of Orange County Public Schools to take action, investigate, and suspend charters where necessary to protect the students and community.”

In 2017, Amsterdam & Partners LLP had previously contacted the board of Orange County Public Schools no fewer than five times warning them of alleged misconduct at Orlando Science Charter School. The firm’s investigation of this school has included a sworn deposition of a parent whose child had allegedly been unlawfully detained, harassed and interrogated by the school staff, as well as earlier incident when the student had suffered a severe injury to the head and the school allegedly failed to call for an ambulance.

Numerous other charter schools in the same Gulen-affiliated network have been involved in scandals in the past year. In Illinois, Concept Schools Inc. recently agreed to pay $4.5 million to end a long-running federal investigation into allegations it improperly steered federally funded technology contracts to “chosen vendors.”

“These schools have a known culture of secrecy and non-transparency, so when issues of alleged abuse and mistreatment of students come up, we have seen that they often try to cover it up,” says Amsterdam. “Local school boards have been warned. The Department of Education has been warned. Law enforcement have been warned. So now is the time for investigation and accountability.”

Amsterdam & Partners LLP has published a book, “Empire of Deceit,” detailing the scandals of the Gulen charter network, including the 12 charters operating in Florida which combine for a revenue of almost $30 million annually taken out of public education. A new book, “Web of Influence,” is due to be published in the coming months. More information is available at https://empireofdeceit.com.