Earlier this week we were asked to provide information to U.S. Department of Education officials as part of a larger federal audit of e-rate technology grants. Those officials indicated they are auditing the funds dispersed to various schools to verify that work paid for with e-rate grants was completed as reported. We were happy to provide them with records and supporting materials detailing how e-rate grants were spent at our IMSA North school, so that they can successfully complete their audit.The e-rate technology grants allow qualified schools to obtain discounted telecommunications, Internet and internal network services. The grants in question are funded by universal service fees all telecommunications users pay for their telephone service. The federal government has conducted a number of investigations across the country in recent years involving fraud with the grant program. In some cases, the money is misused to buy computer equipment.
Two years ago, the former owner of two technology companies in Illinois was sentenced to prison for 30 months after she was found guilty of providing bribes and kickbacks to several school officials and employees responsible for procuring bids for Internet access services under the federal E-Rate program. The fraud involved schools in several states, including Arkansas, Florida, Illinois and Louisiana. The Justice Department found that, in return for the bribes and kickbacks, school employees ceded control of the E-Rate competitive bidding process to Gloria Harper, the former co-owner of Global Networking Technologies and former owner of Computer Training Associates, allowing her to ensure E-Rate contracts at the affected schools were awarded to her companies.
The Indiana Math & Science Academy's schools in Indianapolis are charter schools authorized by the Indianapolis Mayor's office and backed by the Gulen Movement, which was founded by a controversial Turkish Islamic cleric, Fethulla Gulen, and which has been responsible for establishing charter schools all over the United States. The school is managed by Concept Schools, Inc., a Chicago-based not-for profit company affiliated with the Gulen Movement, which was established for the purpose of managing and providing consulting services to affiliated charter schools. The Math & Science Academy's board of directors, according to the school's website, includes: Kent Millard, retired pastor of St. Lukes; Bilal Eksili, executive director of the Gulen-affiliated Niagara Foundation; Pat Bacon, HR director for DePauw University; Brenda Shaheed, Vice President of Student Affairs at Martin University; Nancy Spohn of Spohn Associates; Robert French of First Construction Consulting; and Murat Dundar, a computer science professor at IUPUI.
UPDATE: Watch U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks pander to the Math & Science Academy operator during remarks on the floor of the House.