Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Three Los Angeles charter schools could be shut down, largely because of their practice of bringing in teachers from Turkey.

The schools are part of a group of 10 campuses operated by locally based Magnolia Public Schools, which has relied heavily on using temporary work visas to import Turkish teachers, according to the LA Times Wednesday.

The three charters now under review have five-year operating agreements that are expiring, and the Los Angeles Unified School District must either approve or deny their renewal applications. The Times reports that official word, with no accompanying explanation, reached the three campuses by email Tuesday afternoon: School district staff will recommend denial.

The Los Angeles Board of Education is expected to vote next Tuesday on the recommendations for Magnolia Science Academy 1 in Reseda, Magnolia Science Academy 2 in Van Nuys and Magnolia Science Academy 3 in Carson.

Magnolia’s schools have attracted increased attention in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey in July, according to The Times. The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Turkish cleric Muhammed Fethullah Gulen of masterminding the revolt. Erdogan claims American charter schools with Turkish ties supported and even helped fund Gulen’s alleged activities.

L.A. Unified has not yet released its rationale for recommending that the schools’ renewal requests be denied. But sources inside and outside the district make it clear one major issue is Magnolia’s foreign workers, most of whom came in to teach, The Times reported.

The school group applied to bring in 138 teachers from abroad, almost all from Turkey, and 97 eventually worked for Magnolia. Thirty-seven still do.

Magnolia Chief Executive Caprice Young, the former L.A. school board president, took over Magnolia in 2015 and has said she ended the practice of importing foreign teachers, though she has brought in a Chinese citizen to teach Chinese, The Times reported.

L.A. school board president Steve Zimmer, however, says Magnolia’s past actions remain a problem. Magnolia never indicated it intended to import teachers en masse, he said, according to The Times.

—City News Service

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