Controversial Claims over Charter School Connections

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(MEMPHIS)  A Shelby county commissioner claims Former Mayor Willie Herenton’s charter schools are connected to a controversial Islamic leader.  Herenton’s schools W.E.B. DuBois Consortium of Charter Schools were approved last Tuesday.

Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland has asked the state to step in and investigate their connection to Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen is described by national media as an exiled Turkish preacher trying to build an Islamic movement with him as its leader. He has over a hundred schools in several states, and Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland believes Gulen is connected to former Mayor Willie Herrenton’s W.E.B. DeBois Charter Schools.

“I know that the governor is a big advocate of charter schools. I want to know what he knows about this,” said Roland.

The schools were approved last week and Roland is asking Tennessee’s department of Education to investigate the connection before Shelby County tax payer dollars come into the mix.

“The general public needs to know where all are tax dollars are going. Why is it important? Because some of these organizations are getting twenty percent of the public money off the top to run these organizations,” said Roland.

We could not get in touch with Willie Herenton for comment, but he told the Commercial Appeal there was no connection with his charter schools and Harmony Schools. He said he just included that in the application to impress the school district.

Roland says if that is true and there is no connection the application should be thrown out anyway because it is a falsified document. He’s also concerned because the Harmony Schools have defaulted on some bonds in Georgia leaving the tax payers with the bills. He says he doesn’t want that to happen here in Memphis.