Harmony Science representative defends school, denies allegation - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Harmony Science representative defends school, denies allegations

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

60 Minutes aired a story Sunday night about possible ties between American charter schools and the Gulen movement.

The Gülen movement is inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic theologian Fethullah Gülen. KCBD NewsChannel 11 reached out to Harmony Science Academy in Lubbock earlier this week, but our on camera interview request was denied.

Harmony Science Academy Elementary Coordinator Jodi Bennett sat down with KCBD Wednesday to set the record straight at the local level.

She said the report 60 Minutes aired Sunday was fair.

"Hopefully it dispelled some of the myths that are going on about the ties to our school and the Gulen movement," Bennett said. "None of those are true."

So where are these complaints coming from? The Turkish culture is freely taught at Harmony Science Academy. Alongside typical Spanish courses, students are able to learn the Turkish language. Former Harmony Science parent, Jenifer Jones, said there is also a Turkish night during the week.

Bennett said in regards to Turkish immigrants using the school for immigration fraud, that it is simply all allegations.

"We have some that are not Turkish and don't speak Turkish at all," Bennett said. "Some speak Spanish. We have one that's from Nepal."

Jones, who took her child out of Harmony for disagreements with the administration, said her daughter's math teacher gave her a reason to believe otherwise.

"He told me one night after a math tutoring class," Jones said, "that all of the teachers that were Turkish, were brought over here by the administration, paid their way, paid for their apartments, paid for their status to be here."

In regards to a language barrier, Bennett said, "I think overall it isn't an issue. If you look at our scores kids are getting the education that they need."

Jones disagreed. "When they're trying to explain something and you catch two words out of 50, then the kids aren't getting the education that they need."

Jenifer's daughter Katalyn said she believes she was discriminated against because she is Caucasian.

"They did not pay much attention to the white kids," Katalyn said. "They thought that since we're white we don't need help. They just paid attention to the bad ones who were misbehaving."

Bennett has worked at HSA since it opened in 2007. She says she has never witnessed or heard of any teachings of Gulen or his movement at the local charter school.

Copyright 2012 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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