Teaching Profession

Feds Question Charter Schools’ Foreign-Teacher Hiring Practices

By Jennifer Smith Richards, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT) — May 20, 2011 2 min read

A group of Ohio charter schools is being scrutinized by the U.S. Department of Labor for its teacher-hiring practices.

Horizon Science academies statewide were asked to provide documents related to their hiring of Turkish school employees using special federal visas in the past several years.

There are three Horizon Science schools in Columbus and 17 statewide. They’re part of a network of charter schools called Concept Schools, which also operates Noble Academy in Columbus. The charter network was founded by Turkish scientists. Most of the schools, which also are located in six other states, focus on science, math and technology.

At issue is Horizon’s use of federal H-1B visas, which permit the hiring of foreign workers in specialty occupations—typically those requiring college degrees such as engineers, teachers, computer programmers, doctors and physical therapists.

The Labor Department doesn’t comment on whether it is conducting an investigation, but it did request documents from the schools, said Scott Allen, a department spokesman.

Concept officials sent a letter to parents and employees on Tuesday explaining that the schools used to pay immigration-related fees for family members of some of its visa-using employees. About $13,000 in expenses were paid on behalf of 19 employees, the letter said.

Employers can pay those fees for employees, but they can’t legally use public money for their relatives, so the state auditor issued findings against some Horizon schools in 2001 and 2005 to recover that money. Audit documents show that the Horizon in Columbus was among those dinged in audits, but the money was repaid by 2007.

The letter, signed by Salim Ucan, vice president of Concept Schools, says fewer than 9 percent of all Horizon employees are working using the special visas.

“We will keep up the good work,” he wrote in the letter. “We are proud of our teachers ... every single one of them.”

Onder Sechen, director of the Horizon Science Academy elementary and middle schools on Morse Road, said media reports of an investigation have been troubling to students.

“There is no pending federal or state investigation that I am aware of about our schools in Columbus,” he wrote in an email.

Department of Labor rules say that employers who don’t comply with the H-1B visa guidelines can be prohibited from using the visas in the future and be fined between $1,000 and $35,000, depending on the severity of the violation.

Related Tags:

Copyright (c) 2011, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Engaging Young Students to Accelerate Math Learning
Join learning scientists and inspiring district leaders, for a timely panel discussion addressing a school district’s approach to doubling and tripling Math gains during Covid. What started as a goal to address learning gaps in
Content provided by Age of Learning & Digital Promise, Harlingen CISD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Teachers Walk Off the Job at Chicago’s Urban Prep
With just two weeks left to the school year, teachers went on strike over what they say is a lack of support for special education students.
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune
3 min read
Images shows hand drawn group of protestors.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Profession Is It Time to Relax Teacher Dress Codes?
After teaching at home in comfortable clothes, some school and district leaders support casual attire for teachers returning to classrooms.
4 min read
Illustration of clothes on hangers
Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion I Started Teaching During the Pandemic. Here's What I Learned
What’s it like launching a teaching career over Zoom? Kindergarten teacher Alicia Simba reflects on an unusual first year in the profession.
Alicia Simba
4 min read
Illustration of paper figures connected in a line.
JamesBrey/E+
Teaching Profession Juliana Urtubey, an Elementary Special Educator, Is the 2021 National Teacher of the Year
Known as Ms. Earth for her work with school gardens, Urtubey is a National Board-certified teacher in Las Vegas.
4 min read
Juliana Urtubey
Juliana Urtubey
Courtesy Photo