HOW TO GET A CHARTER SCHOOL WITHOUT ANY SORT OF EXPERIENCEExamining the early days of Magnolia Science Academy, you will scratch your head in bewilderment at how these schools were approved back in 2001
CEO history of the Magnolia organization:
- 2002 to ~2008: Huseyin Hurmali rotated out of the Gulen education world to become chairman of the West America Turkic Council (WATC), one of the six regional NGOs under the Turkic American Alliance, the Gulen Movement's national US umbrella. By 2012, Hurmali was back in Turkey working for the Journalists and Writers Foundation, a major, and completely acknowledged to be Gulenist public relations NGO (in Turkish: Gazeticiler ve Yazarlar Vakfi, GYV). Today Hurmanli, the first CEO of Magnolia, is the vice president of GYV.
- 2009 to 2011: Suleyman Bahceci appears in the original 2000 application for the first Harmony school in TX, listed as a member of the charter school development team. Now he's executive VP for a Gulenist university in Virginia. https://www.linkedin.com/in/suleymanbahceci
- 2012 to 2014 (late summer): Mehmet Argin (returned to Turkey and works at a Gulenist university there.http://p.mevlana.edu.tr/margin/
- 2014 (late summer to end of year): Murat Biyik, interim CEO (now listed as a board member of the Gulen charter school in UT)
- 2015 to present: Caprice Young
2. Info about the people involved with the very first Magnolia charter school. Since I've never been able to get hold of the original MSA-Reseda petition submitted to LAUSD in 2001 (would likely list the founding team members), I looked at the board members who appear on the very first tax return for the Dialog Cultural, Scientific & Educational Foundation (the original name of the Magnolia nonprofit). The Dialog Foundation nonprofit was incorporated on 8/28/1997, but I don't know who filed it or if there was a false start before 2001 that we don't know about.
1. Remzi Oten, president
2. Ertan Salik, vice president
3. Greg Sotzing, director
4. Buket Aktas, director
5. Ali Emre Uyar, director
6. Yusef Ateskan, director
My best summary for what was going on in late 2001 thru 2002:
- All of the above were between ~26 and ~30 years old.
- Almost all were in graduate school or had obtained graduate degrees very recently.
- Five were from Turkey; one was an American who was not even living in California at the time.
- The Turkish individuals had been living in the US from one year (or possibly even less) up to 7-10 years.
- Two of the six returned to Turkey
- Two of the six now live in other states
- Two of the six (Oten and Salik) have remained in Southern California
- None of the above had experience in US K-12 education
I suspect this is basically the pattern for every Gulen charter school effort made in the early years. Later on, many of the Gulenists who wanted to start charter schools were also able to recruit non-Turkish/Turkic sympathizers and outsiders to be on their founding teams and boards (people who had been on Gulenist-sponsored Turkey trips, etc.).
Details based on information obtained online on 2/24/2016.
1. Remzi Oten (b. ~1972): Came to the US from Turkey between 1992 (the year he obtained a BS in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Bilkent University) and 1995 (the year he entered graduate school at UC-Irvine). Thus Oten had been in the US for seven or so years when he became the ~30 y/o board president for Dialog Cultural, Scientific & Educational Foundation (see Form 990s for 2002 and 2003). What he’s doing today:https://www.linkedin.com/in/remzi-oten-777b43a NOTE: In 2015, Oten returned as a Magnolia board member. In 2012, his wife Tugba (using the name "Michelle Oten") listed herself as "Pacifica Insitute/Outreach Coordinator" on the form for her $1,500 campaign contribution to Loretta Sanchez. On her form for her $1,200 contribution to Alan Lowenthal that year, she called herself Tugba M. Oten.
2. Ertan Salik (b. ~1973): Salik came to the US from Turkey between 1994 (the year he obtained a BS in Physics from Bogazici University) and 1996/1997 (approx. year he started graduate school at the University of Southern California). Thus, when he was pitching the first Magnolia charter school to LAUSD in the fall of 2001, Salik was a ~28 y/o newly minted USC PhD who had only been in the US for four to five years, all of that time in graduate school. He appears on Dialog/Magnolia’s Form 990s for 2002 and 2003 as vice president, and for 2004 and 2006 as president. No Form 990 for 2005 is available. Salik contributes articles to the Gulenist Fountain Magazine (see the photo I took of it being advertised at the Anatolian Fest), What he’s doing today:http://www.cpp.edu/~esalik/members.html
3. Greg Sotzing (b. ~1974): In 1997, Sotzing obtained his PhD from the University of Florida then completed a post doc at the California Institute of Technology, finishing in 1999. Dialog/Magnolia lists him on its tax return (Form 990s for 2002 and 2003), but he was not living in California at the time. As it turns out, Sotzing was working at the University of Connecticut as an Assistant Professor from 1999 to 2004. Of importance is that Sotzing helped establish Putnam Science Academy, a private Gulen school in Connecticut and served as its president starting in 2002. What he’s doing today: http://www.ims.uconn.edu/gregory-a-sotzing/ NOTE: Sotzing married Fatma Selampinar at some point. She is a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at UConn and they have two children.
4. Buket Aktas (female, birth year not known): In 2001 Aktas came to Los Angeles from Turkey, but then returned in 2003. Although she was in the US for only two years, she was made a board member for the Dialog/Magnolia organization for those years (see Form 990s for 2002 and 2003). What she's doing today is not known.
5. Ali Emre Uyar (b. 1976): Now going by the name Emre Uyar. In 2000, after obtaining his MA in Economics from Bilkent University, Uyar came to the US to start a graduate fellowship at UCLA. By 2002 he was a 26 y/o board member for the Dialog/Magnolia organization (Form 990s for 2002, 2003, and 2007). Uyar completed his PhD in 2007, and then appears at Duke University in 2009. What he’s doing today:https://www.cornerstone.com/Staff/Emre-Uyar
6. Yusef Ateskan (b. ~1974): Ateskan came to the US from Turkey after obtaining his BS in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Middle East Technical University in 1996. By 2001 he had obtained his MS in Electrical Engineering from USC. He appears as a director for Dialog Cultural, Scientific & Educational Foundation on its Form 990s for 2002 and 2003 (~28 y/o at the time). The exact year of his return to Turkey is not known but by 2008 he was working as a senior engineer at Vestel in Izmir. What he’s doing today:http://english.izmir.edu.tr/electronics-and-communication-tech/84-ak/234-yusuf-selcuk-ateskan-cv.html
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