We frequently encounter instances of Turkish immigrants who enter the United States on H-1B visas sponsored by the Fetullah Gülen charter schools, where they are then employed. What’s more, is that this sponsorship comes with a catch.

These Turkish immigrants are often coerced to pay a portion of their salary as a “kickback” to Gülen organization, and are threatened with deportation upon non-compliance. Of course, this threat quiets would be whistleblowers and perpetuates the sponsorship-kickback cycle.

Though, in the case of former Oakland BayTech charter school principal, Mr. Hayri Hatipoglu, his Australian citizenship critically undermines the leverage of the Gülen affiliated organizations persecuting him.

In recent weeks, Oakland’s Bay Area Technology School has become the center of a management crisis and accusations of fraud. Now, the school’s former principal, Hayri Hatipoglu, alleges that the embattled charter school was used to bankroll a religious and political movement that was accused by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of participating in an attempted 2016 coup.

In an interview with the Express last week, Hatipoglu said employees of the school — many of them Turkish immigrants — handed over thousands of dollars from their own salaries for the cause in exchange for the H-1B visas allowing them to work in the United States.

 Hatipoglu said he resigned and left for Australia, where he is a citizen. He said he no longer wanted to allow the Gülen movement to exploit the school. And he said the allegations of fraud against him by BayTech’s board of directors are false.

The Oakland Unified School District is currently investigating Hatipoglu for possibly embezzling thousands of dollars from the school by using its credit card to make unauthorized purchases, and for allegedly altering his employment contract without the board’s knowledge. Hatipoglu’s employment contract provided him with a fixed three-year term of employment. The contract stipulated that if he was terminated, or quit, without cause, the school would owe him the remaining pay for the rest of the three-year term. Fatih Dagdelen, a BayTech school board member who is accusing Hatipoglu of fraud, claimed in a recent email to OUSD officials that the true term of the contract was six months, not three years.

Hatipoglu denies that he stole from BayTech or altered his contract. But the former principal said all the allegations about BayTech’s links to the Gülen movement are true.

Public records support some of Hatipoglu’s claims.

“The school gave Turkish teachers employment because the school applies for their visas, and when they give donations, they get to work,” said Hatipoglu. “I told [BayTech’s board] I’d no longer do this because there have been so many allegations, and the Turkish government is looking into it.”

Hatipoglu is one of the first high-level administrators of a Gülen school to describe the ways the movement allegedly extracts money from the many charter schools its followers operate.


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