LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Unified School District Board on Tuesday voted unanimously to not renew the charters of two schools operating under the Gulen-affiliated Magnolia Science Academy.
The Magnolia Academy 6, a middle school in Palms and the Magnolia Science Academy 7, an elementary school in Northridge, were both slated to be shut down after an LAUSD audit deemed them insolvent based on IRS standards due to a $1.7 million deficit and charged financial misappropriations by the school administrations. The audit also found that the school had
However, in late July LA Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin granted an injunction in order to not disrupt the student community, but ordered a strict investigation into the finances of the MERF and the Magnolia schools. Lavin’s ruling means that the schools will remain open after Tuesday’s vote but their charters will not be renewed for operation beyond that.
This ruling comes a week after the Joint Legislative Audit Committee called for a statewide audit of the Magnolia Science Academies of California, which runs 12 tax payer-funded charter schools in the state that have ties to the Gueln Institute, affiliated to the Turkish cleric Fettulah Gulen.
The audit, requested by State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, brings forth major concerns of misappropriation of tax payer funds of the 12 Magnolia charter schools and their parent company, the Magnolia Education and Research Foundation (MERF).
“Charter Schools play an important role in the public education system by delivering a high quality education to our students. I am deeply troubled that public education funds are being abused by the Magnolia Academies. It was important to bring this request forward to ensure that our tax payer dollars aren’t being misspent, at the expense of the students, and the taxpayers who support public education.” said Nazarian.
On the national level, Gulen-affiliated schools have come under investigation for questionable financial practices, to filling teacher positions with often unqualified people brought in from Turkey.
Gulen-affiliated charter schools in Arizona, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Texas and New Jersey have been under investigation by the FBI since 2011.