Quest Charter Academy - Denials and Evidence
June 18, 2011
by C.A.S.I.L.I.P.S. - Citizens Against Special Interest Lobbying in Public Schools
On June 10, 2011, Peoria news station WMBD ran a story on their website entitled "PCSI: No Quest Link To Investigated Charter School Group." This was apparently in response to inquiries about Quest stimulated by a June 6, 2011 New York Times story on the Gulen charter schools in Texas. While the Times story focused on the Harmony Public Schools run by the Cosmos Foundation in Texas, it stated that "Gulen followers have been involved in starting similar schools around the country — there are about 120 in all, mostly in urban centers in 25 states, one of the largest collections of charter schools in America."
The WMBD article states that:
"Officials of Peoria Charter School Initiative want it made clear the organization running Quest Charter School is not affiliated with another group mired in controversy. PCSI board spokeswoman Rob Parks says she and the board are aware of an investigation into Gulen Schools, a Turkish Group which operates charter school in 25 states. ....
"Parks says the board leadership met extensively with Quest parent company Concept Schools at the time and came away comforted there was no linkage between Concept and Gulen. Parks says the board remains confident there's no connection to this day."
The Concept Model is exactly the same as the one used by a Gulen school - Moonlight International School - in South Africa.
The mission and educational philosophy appearing on the website of Moonlight International School in South Africa are identical to that appearing on Concept Schools' website and on the websites of many of Concepts' member schools in the U.S. For example, compare the mission of Horizon Science Academy Columbus with Moonlight's mission. Compare the Educational Philosophy of Moonlight here with the Concept Model on Concept School's website. They are identical.
Moonlight International School is run by Horizon Educational Trust. That Horizon Educational Trust is part of the Gulen Movement can be verified by a paper available on one of the Gulen Movement's own websites http://gulenconference.org.uk entitled "The Educational Theory of Fethullah Gulen and its Practice in South Africa" by Yasien Mohamed. Here are some relevant excerpts:
"There are three Star International High Schools managed by Horizon Educational Trust (HET); one in Cape Town, one in Durban and one in Johannesburg. They follow the state curriculum, but include Turkish as a language up till grade 11. The Fountain Education Trust (FET), also inspired by Gulen, also follow the state curriculum (Interview, K. Ozdemir, 31 May 2006), but they are in charge of the Islamic schools called the “Sama” schools. This paper will confine itself only to the schools managed by Horizon Educational Trust."
"New teachers adapt easily to the school as they share in the vision and mission of their leader, Fethullah Gulen."
"The school promotes faith, but it is tempered with respect and tolerance for other religions. The school also has a Turkish character: the Turkish national anthem is sung, the Turkish flag is in some classrooms, and the Turkish language is taught. ....Gulen’s vision is that Turkish teachers should serve humanity, not only Turks."
"The Turkish teachers are practicing Muslims, and share in the educational philosophy of their teacher, Fethullah Gulen."
Two different students, both at a school named "Horizon", one in Ohio and one in South Africa, both say the exact same quote.
Websites of Concept Schools in the United States quote "Edwards Capp" [sic], a student at Horizon Science Academy Cleveland High School, as saying that "Failure is not possible unless you really want to fail." Putting the quote in a search engine brings up numerous Concept Schools websites in the US, as well as the website of a "Concept School" in India called JC Junior College. Apparently a student named Edward Capps (not Edwards Capp) did graduate from Horizon Science Academy Cleveland High School.
A web search of the "Failure is not possible...." line also brings up the website of Moonlight International School in South Africa, where the exact same quote is attributed to Nicholas Bixa, said to be a former student at Horizon International High School.
Horizon International High School is unequivocally a Gulen school. It is run by Horizon Educational Trust, as is the Moonlight International School mentioned above.
Concept Schools was a "platinum" sponsor of a 2009 Gulenist iftar dinner in the United Arab Emirates.
The dinner was organized by the Gulf States Cultural Friendship and Cooperation Foundation (a Gulenist dialog society; in Turkish the name is "Körfez Ülkeleri Kültürel Dostluk ve İşbirliği Derneği") which took place in the United Arab Emirates. This sponsorship was reported by Cihan News Agency (which is part of the Gulen Movement), and the news article, in Turkish, can be viewed on this Albanian news website.
The key part of the news story is:
"Bu yıl dördüncüsü düzenlenen Türk iftar programının ana sponsorları 6News, El Haliç ve J.B. Financial AB; Platin Sponsorları Air Arabia, Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfı, Hira Dergisi, FCA İnşaat ve Concept Okulları; Altın Sponsorları Ant Ticaret, Flekssit Ofis Mobilyaları, Palermo Mobilya, Hasan Aşık ve DRFCO Müteahhitlik; Gümüş Sponsorları Penguen Tedarik, Al Sharif Avukatlık Bürosu, Asil Mermer, Gusto Mobilya, Narin İnşaat, Feti Yılmaz, Bedir Uluslararası Yatırım ve OreMine Kaynak oldu."
Some translation help:
Platin Sponsorları = platinum sponsors
Concept Okulları = Concept Schools (okul = school, adding suffix "lar" makes it plural, and the suffix "ı" is a Turkish accusative case noun ending)
Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfı = Journalists and Writers Foundation (known to be Gulenist)
Hira Dergisi = Hira Magazine, Gulenist Arabic-language publication containing articles written by Fethullah Gulen himself
Ant Ticaret = Ant Stores, a Gulenist business with facilities in New Jersey (ant = oath, vow)
For more on what Concept Schools is doing in the United Arab Emirates, see this page on "Concept Schools International."
Ergun "Eric" Koyuncu had simultaneous affiliations with Concept Schools and the Niagara Foundation.
Since 2003, Niagara Educational Services, the Gulenist umbrella organization that runs the Niagara Foundation and Science Academy of Chicago, has been working on a project to create a large cultural center at a property in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. More recently, the project was expanded to include a school (apparently a branch of the Science Academy).
A document from Feb 15, 2011 that can be viewed at the Village of Mt Prospect website, describing city business relating to this project, contains the line "Mr Koyuncu stated that he was involved with the project from the beginning." That is, Ergun "Eric" Koyuncu was involved with this major project of Niagara Educational Services continuously from 2003 to the present.
During this time period. Koyuncu was also affiliated with Concept Schools.
A document pertaining to the management contract between Concept Schools and its member schools can be downloaded at the website of the Roger Bacon Academy, a charter school in North Carolina. This document is a fax dated May 23, 2008. The final page of the contract says it should be faxed to Concept Schools, Attention Ergun Koyuncu.
Moreover, when Ergun Koyuncu made a $1,150 to the campaign of Gery Chico For Senate on March 9, 2004, he listed his employer as Concept Schools.
Ergun Koyuncu is also listed as "President" of Wisconsin Career Academy, Inc., the charter holder of Wisconsin Career Academy, a Gulen charter school, on its 2003 IRS Form 990. While Wisconsin Career Academy (WCA) is not officially listed on the Concept Schools website as a member, it is a de facto Concept School, as can be shown by numerous connections: the close visual resemblance of one of its websites (possibly a former one) to Concept's website, the fact that its website is hosted at the same IP address as all Concept Schools websites, the many individuals who have been affiliated with both WCA and Concept Schools, similarities between phraseology used by WCA and that used by Concept, etc.
Here's a review of evidence already appearing on other webpages at our site that Concept Schools and Quest Charter Academy are connected to the Gulen Movement:
Click here: Quest Charter Academy's letter from Principal Engin Blackstone, appearing in the student handbook for the 2010-2011 school year, is nearly identical to that of a number of a other Gulen charter schools, including Harmony Public Schools in Texas (the schools flagged in the New York Times article) as well as private Gulen schools in other countries such as Canada and Tajikistan.
Click here: The connection of Concept Schools to the Gulen Movement and Harmony/Cosmos is shown by multiple affiliations (past and present) of teachers and administrators with Concept Schools members and other Gulen charter and private schools across the U.S. Note in particular the Berkley Center interview with Hasan Ali Yurtsever, a board member of Chicago Math and Science Academy (managed by Concept Schools), where he talks about Gulen schools and knowing Gulen personally from an early age.
Click here: By its own admission, Concept Schools is now "Concept Schools International," operating in other countries such as the United Arab Emirates, where it is founding Gulen schools that include Islamic education.
Click here: See the list of domain names for Concept Schools members, all hosted at the same IP address. One of these domain names is questpeoria.org, the website of Quest Charter Academy. Only two domain names that do not belong to schools affiliated with Concept Schools are hosted at this IP address: islamichicago.org (registered to Hilmi Okur, Islamic Society of Chicago) and qbmidwest.com (Quality Builders Midwest Inc). The latter business no longer exists. Hilmi Okur is a member of the Niagara Foundation, which is known to be Gulenist. Fethullah Gulen is the Honorary President of the Niagara Foundation.
Click here: financial connections between Concept Schools, and Niagara Educational Services, and the Niagara Foundation.