Mired in ongoing investigations into fraud committed by former administrators, BayTech charter school in Oakland may be receiving a lifeline from Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). The primary target of the ongoing investigations into fraud is the former principal, Hayri Hatipoglu, who allegedly modified the contents of his employment contract in order to receive severance benefits for three years rather than six months upon termination without cause.

In his correspondence with East Bay Express, a local newspaper, Mr. Hatipoglu maintains his innocence, and claims that his persecution and the allegations against him are unwarranted, and are instead part of a retaliatory defamation campaign perpetuated by affiliates of the Gülen movement.

Hatipoglu’s employment contract, which is on file with OUSD, provided him with a three-year term of employment at an annual salary of $142,992, and if terminated without cause by either the school or Hatipoglu, BayTech is obligated to pay in one lump sum the remainder of the salary owed for the contract’s full term.

In a June 27 email sent by BayTech board member Kairat Sabyrov to OUSD’s charter schools compliance specialist Leslie Jimenez, Sabyrov claimed that Hatipoglu originally proposed giving himself and several other administrative staff fixed-term contracts to create more stability at the school. Sabyrov wrote that these fixed-term contracts were considered at a March 8 board meeting, and that Hatipoglu presented them as having a six-month duration.

The board agreed and signed off on the new employment agreements, according to BayTech’s board records posted on the school’s website, but the term length of the contracts aren’t mentioned in these records.

According to Sabyrov, Hatipoglu later swapped out pages in the contracts to change the terms from six months to three years. He then sent these back to Sabyrov to memorialize in the school’s board meeting minutes, Sabyrov alleges.

Hatipoglu has maintained in emails sent to the Express that Sabyrov’s allegations are false, and that he is instead being retaliated against for breaking ties with the Accord Institute.

Accord is a nonprofit that was founded by members of the Gülen movement, a Turkish religious sect run by the elderly imam Fethullah Gülen.

In an email sent over the weekend, Hatipoglu wrote that Sabyrov, who is originally from Kyrgyzstan and BayTech’s two Turkish board members are part of a “shady network that is exploiting the school’s resources.”

Hatipoglu didn’t specifically identify this “shady network,” but BayTech’s links to followers of Fethullah Gülen are well-known. The school was founded by Gülen movement members, including the current CEO of the Accord Institute, and BayTech has contracted with several companies that are suspected of being owned and operated by Gülenists. BayTech also paid the Accord Institute about $70,000 a year for various education training services.

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