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
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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

Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
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
Science Webinar
Close the Gender Gap: Getting Girls Excited about STEM
Join female STEM leaders as they discuss the importance of early cheerleaders, real life role models, and female networks of support.
Content provided by Logitech
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
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education

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 Scared, Anxious, Worried: States’ New Restrictions Have Teachers on Edge
Even math and science teachers say they're self-censoring and frightened about falling afoul of the policies.
6 min read
Image of caution tape near the teacher's desk in the classroom.
enjoynz/DigitalVision Vectors + EdWeek
Teaching Profession Morning Rituals Educators Swear By to Start the Day Right
From yoga and exercise to greeting each student by name, educators share their best tips for a great start to the school day.
1 min read
Image of a clock on a spiral notebook.
iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession The IRS Increased the Teacher Tax Deduction. Will It Help?
Teachers use the deduction to offset the cost of classroom supplies.
1 min read
Image of school supplies
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion Teachers Are Not Meant to Be Martyrs
When teachers speak out, they are not waving at you. They are drowning in front of you.
Amanda Slaten Frasier
4 min read
Digital Illustration of a woman lost is a large maze
Mikkel William/E+