Gülen-linked charter school principal arrested for covering up abuse allegations

The principal of a charter school in Orlando, Florida was arrested on Tuesday for failing to report allegations of child abuse against an employee.

Abdülaziz Yalçın, the 35 year-old principal of the school that is allegedly connected to Pennsylvania-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, is also accused of instructing his subordinates to join the cover-up, Orlando Sentinel reported on Wednesday.

Yalçın had knowledge of several children coming forward with claims of abuse by early 2019, but didn’t report the claims to the police for a month, Orlando Sentinel reported based on a case report from the Orlando Police Department.

The police report included accusations against a school employee of “soliciting nude photos of the boys and engaging them in sexually explicit conversations via the SnapChat app.” According to Orlando Sentinel, the school’s dean urged Yalçın to inform authorities and the boys’ families, but his pleas “fell on deaf ears.”

The school announced that Yalçın had been removed from his post.

Turkey is accusing charter schools linked to Gülen and his followers of defrauding public money in the United States to fund the movement’s activities, and Gülen himself of having orchestrated several attempts to overthrow the elected Turkish government.

In 2017, former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration looked into cutting off public funding for charter schools affiliated with Gülen, but the Department of Education rejected the inquiries and argued that cutting off funding without evidence or violation of grant conditions would violate the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, according to Bloomberg.

CBC News estimated that some 136 Gülen-affiliated schools had been established in the United States in 2017.

The schools focus on science education and take in a large portion of students from low-income households, and receive state funding through a federal grant.