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Young Scholars Charter School Discussed Heavily at Baldwin Township Meetings Monday Night

The Baldwin Township Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the school by the township’s Board of Commissioners. The township will officially decide on April 5.

Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania Charter School will be the first multilingual and multicultural elementary school in the greater Pittsburgh area,” said Kim Gales-Dunn of J.R. Gales & Associates, Inc., “with a unique and proactive alternative to traditional public education.

“It provides an ideal, dynamic, global-learning environment for the intellectual and social development of its students.”

Gales-Dunn, who works for the civil-engineering company hired by Young Scholars to submit a “Conditional Use Approval” application to open a public charter school in Baldwin Township, began the interview portion of Monday night’s Baldwin Township Planning Commission meeting with those statements.

She stuck to those guns all night, as did Attorney Robert B. Brown Jr. of Sherrard, German, & Kelly, P.C., who represents Newport Drive Properties; and Melih Demirkan, a Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania Charter School board member, who represents the school itself.

Newport Drive Properties, which is owned by the company “Dream Schools, Inc.,” was the official applicant at the township’s Planning Commission meeting Monday night, but Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania was officially added as a co-applicant before Gales-Dunn, Brown and Demirkan faced the Board of Commissioners later that night.

While Young Scholars hired J.R. Gales & Associates, Newport Drive Properties has no relationship with Young Scholars other than its desire to lease space to the school.

“Other than the relationship of landlord and tenant,” Brown said, “there is no relationship between Newport Drive Properties and Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania. 

“Dream Schools … owns Newport Drive Properties. Newport Drive Properties is the real-estate holding company. It will be a single-purpose company formed solely for the purpose of owning this property and then leasing it out.”

Brown was referring to 600 Newport Drive, which formerly served as a nursing home and as a school before that. The current owner of 600 Newport – a 30,000-square-foot property – is “SNH/LTA Properties Trust,” according to the Allegheny County Assessment website.

Both Gales-Dunn and Demirkan said that the fact that 600 Newport previously served as a school is one of the biggest reasons why that location was chosen for Young Scholars. Also because of that fact – and a big reason why the school’s application before the township is “conditional” in nature – construction at 600 Newport in preparation for Young Scholars would be interior only and thus would not include any exterior additions or major exterior renovations.

“The school will be for primarily Baldwin-Whitehall students,” Demirkan told both the Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners, noting that Young Scholars would only enroll students from outside of the if it could not fill its classrooms with exclusively B-W students.

Demirkan said that the school would be tuition-free and that classrooms would not exceed 20 students each.

He said that, other than a student being a Baldwin-Whitehall resident, students would not be given preference for selection.

“It’s like regular public school,” Demirkan said.

Young Scholars hopes to open this coming fall with 120 students its first academic year, followed by more students each year after that until it reaches 180 by 2015.

“Students will have to apply,” Demirkan said. “If there are more than 120 applications (for this coming fall), then there will be a lottery process.

“There is (sic) no selection criteria,” he said, except that, for the school’s first academic year, it would only be open for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

“Any student who is enrolled in any school district in the greater Pittsburgh area can apply.

“There is (sic) no criteria. We cannot do that, because this is a public school.”

After at least one academic year, the school would like to eventually include students up to eighth grade.

Should the school ever exceed 180 enrolled students, it would have to gain approval again.

Demirkan said that the school would employee 12 full-time teachers and three full-time administrative officers in its first year. The school would also employ part-time teachers for classes in art and music.

He said that 30 percent of Young Scholars’ teachers could work without a state teaching license due to state charter law.

“Since we’re going to teach foreign languages,” Demirkan said, “it’s very difficult to have certified foreign-language teachers.

“That’s (30 percent is) the allowance from the law … If we can find certified teachers, we’ll be happy to hire them. Eventually, we’ll encourage our teachers to get certification when they start at the school.”

Demirkan said that Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania does not have any formal or official affiliation with any other schools.

“But a charter school in State College (Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania), we consider it as our sister school,” he said.

Demirkan said that it would have a similar curriculum as the State College school and that some of the proposed Baldwin Township school’s board members have previously worked at the State College school.

“That’s the only affiliation that we have with the school in State College,” he said. “If you look at our curriculum system, it’s very similar. We have small adjustments to the local community here.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has granted accreditation to the Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania Charter School.

Having felt satisfied with Young Scholars’ application and Gales-Dunn’s, Brown’s and Demirkan’s responses to interview questions, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the township’s Board of Commissioners approve the use of 600 Newport Drive as a public school.

The Planning Commission meeting adjourned, and the Board of Commissioners meeting began shortly after.

Brown noted at the start of the Board of Commissioners meeting that Dream Schools, Newport Drive Properties and Young Scholars are all Pennsylvania nonprofit organizations.

Gales-Dunn, Brown and Demirkan were not subjected to questions from Baldwin Township residents during the Planning Commission meeting, but the Board of Commissioners meeting was a different story.

Numerous residents posed questions, including Jim Fandray of 822 Rolling Rock Road, who asked Demirkan if he knew of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic political figure believed to be residing in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Demirkan said that he did not know Gulen personally but that he had heard of him.

“He is a very well-known figure in Turkey, where I came from,” Demirkan said. “We don’t have any affiliation or anything.”

Fandray then asked Demirkan if he knew that Gulen was involved in an FBI investigation, but the Board of Commissioners informed Demirkan that he did not have to answer that question since Young Scholars’ application is unrelated to Fandray’s questioning.

However, before the board could intervene, Demirkan could be heard replying, “No.”

The board also denied Fandray’s questioning of the legality of soliciting signatures from district residents in regard to obtaining a legal charter to found the proposed school.

“This is a zoning hearing,” said Tom McDermott, township solicitor. “Questions regarding the matter should be geared toward the topic of the zoning classification …”

Fandray objected, but McDermott responded, “We are able to regulate the scope of questioning geared toward relevance to why we’re here.”

This article published in the Centre Daily Times on March 22 supports Fandray’s claim of an FBI investigation of Gulen and the Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School.

That article reads:

“The Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School in Ferguson Township is one of more than 100 charter schools across the country that are the (sic) part of a federal investigation, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday(, March 20).

“A spokeswoman from the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not confirm the report Monday, (March 21,) saying the office does not comment on anything that is or may be under investigation.

“The newspaper cited unidentified knowledgeable sources to say that ‘federal agencies — including the FBI and the departments of Labor and Education — are investigating whether some charter school employees are kicking back part of their salaries to a Muslim movement founded by (Fethullah) Gulen,’ a major Islamic political figure in Turkey.

“Attorneys for Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the Poconos, argued that he had ‘overseen the establishment of a conglomeration of schools throughout the world’ when he successfully argued to be granted a green card in the United States.”

Gulen’s website can be seen here.

Fandray told the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch that he had no specific line of questioning in mind for Demirkan at Monday night’s meetings.

“I was just gonna drill ’im,” Fandray said.

Another resident asked Demirkan if Young Scholars chose the Baldwin-Whitehall area because of its large refugee population.

“They (refugees) are not our target students,” Demirkan said, “for the record.

“We will have a stronger ESL (English a Second Language) program than regular public schools, but we are not targeting any particular student demography.”

The township’s Board of Commissioners will vote on whether or not to approve Newport Drive Properties/Young Scholars’ application at another public meeting at the on Community Park Drive on Tuesday, April 5, at 7:30 p.m.

In February of last year, the Baldwin-Whitehall school board rejected Young Scholars opening in its district, but the board was overruled by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Funding for Young Scholars would come from the school districts that its students reside in, just like other public schools’ funding normally would.

Students living in Baldwin-Whitehall that do not attend Baldwin-Whitehall school district schools are still bussed by the Baldwin-Whitehall school district to any school that they choose to go to as long as those schools are within 10 miles of Baldwin-Whitehall borders.

Young Scholars would be inside Baldwin Township, and therefore, that qualifies.

Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania is planning its first open house session for Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m. However, the session will be held at 4143 Brownsville Road, Suite No. 6, in Brentwood Borough, instead of on Newport Drive.

gmtracker March 29, 2011 at 11:54 PM
Demirkan gives the standard clever Gulenist response about his connection to the teachings of Fethullah Gulen. Members of the Gestapo could have said the same thing about Adolph Hitler ("I've heard of him but I don't know him personally."). The Gulen movement is about being a follower of Fethullah Gulen and a member of the brotherhood. They are perfectly willing to lie to us. Many have been recruited and converted at tutoring centers and schools when they were teens. Gulen tells them they are his "Golden Generation" and has given them a global project of starting schools. Guess why. Their schools in other countries are mostly private, but they LOVE how the charter school system, plus the ignorance of Americans lets them run their schools with our tax money. They skim some of that money off for "the cause" and direct some to their Gulenist brothers in business (construction, curriculum, etc.). People in other countries are ahead of us in knowing what is going on. http://gulenforeignmedia.weebly.com/article-list.html Of course Demirkan is a member of the FCG (Fethullah Gulen Community). So his his volunteer buddy and founder of YSCP, Isa Hafalir, who was the Boston University Dialog Forum president. "Interfaith" and "dialog" are Gulenist buzzwords. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09344/1019748-55.stm And here's what the Gulenists have been doing in Turkey. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=the-mess-2011-03-29 Pittsburg needs to wise up. The Gulenists are bad news.
gmtracker March 30, 2011 at 12:43 AM
Correction. The Dialog Forum is in our own backyard. From: http://tinyurl.com/4khwk6p "The Dialog Forum, a Penn State student organization whose mission is to create a "dialog" between interfaith and intercultural students, decided to seek out the globally known musician after hearing about a Tekbile's [Ömer Faruk Tekbilek] performance at Boston University, Dialog Forum President Isa Hafalir said." Like I said, "interfaith" and "dialog" are the sheep's clothing for these wolves. Here's inspirational music by Tebilek narrating the type of preaching the Gulenists like. Gulen is a spiritual descendant of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, a Sufi preacher. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHmGWDT7Ht4 Welcome to their world.
jake March 30, 2011 at 11:22 AM
No relationship between YSWP and Dream Schools/Newport Drive Properties other than a landlord-tenant one? Really? The 2007 and 2008 IRS Form 990s for Dream Schools show the address 1530 Westerly Parkway State College PA 16801 That is also the address of Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania, the “sister school” of YSCP. Board members listed on Dream Schools Form 990s: Riza Ulker, Bulent Tarman. Both had affiliations with YSCP. Ulker was a founder of YSCP. Tarman is a former CEO of YSCP. The 2007 and 2008 IRS Form 990s for Dream Schools also show “Rental of school building to a non-profit charter school.” Since YSWP didn’t exist at the time, this refers to another school – YSCP.
gmtracker March 30, 2011 at 02:57 PM
To all the Anatolian members of Fethullah Gulen's "volunteer movement": Here's some fresh advice from your Hocaefendi for how to handle your critics. http://www.todayszaman.com/columnist-239588-well-kiss-the-hands-of-those-who-tell-us-our-shortcomings.html “...We should take a look at ourselves. Are there any mistakes in our methodology and style?...It is wrong to immediately blame people without first considering these possibilities and without first confronting and questioning ourselves. “... I wish they would tell us what it is that we’re missing, whether its reading, talking, comparative reading or making sacrifices, without insulting and offending us. We would consider it guidance. We would see it as a guide to improving ourselves to improving the people within this movement. We would easily kiss the hands [an act of respect] of people who extend them with the purpose of showing us the way.” http://www.todayszaman.com/columnist-239588-well-kiss-the-hands-of-those-who-tell-us-our-shortcomings.html So, founders of YSWP, as someone who is quite annoyed with Gulen and what his followers have been doing, perhaps you can follow what Gulen is saying and listen to my guidance for what you are missing. Instead of being ambiguous, how about publicly admitting that you are members of Gulen's "volunteer movement" and that the reason you want to open this charter school is because you are indeed participating in this movement's worldwide mission of opening schools?
MarkMunoz March 31, 2011 at 01:04 AM
Mr. Demirkan lies just like the other members of Hizmet (yalanci) Brown, Gales-Dunn et al are all paid tools of the Gulen Movement and nothing special. This same model of manipulation of local media, academia, businesses, politicians, interfaith dialog, police, judicary system and military is played out worldwide by the Gulen Movement. In Turkey they have managed to manipulated all "arteries of the system until they reach all power centers" which is what their leader exiled Islamic Imam Fethullah Gulen has directed them to do. This school was initially denied and in the true Gulen manipulation, lie, cajole, bribe, blackmail, intimidate, threaten then play victim..they manage to push a school through. Young Scholars is being investigated by the FBI and Demirkan is PART of this group, he is correct that he has never met Gulen but he nevertheless is part of the 6-8 million members worldwide. Gulen is not popular in our Turkey, he was exiled out after his famous arteries speech and now lives ironically in the Poconos, PA area. I would check the signatures and validate they are real people, as this group is known for acting like American parents and forge signatures of people who are not even American citzens. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN04cOqLc9g
MarkMunoz March 31, 2011 at 01:12 AM
Congratulations to Mr. Jim Fandray for having the guts and exercising his rights as an American tax payer to ask direct questions to Demirkan. The Board of Commisisioners is incorrect, Fandray has every right to ask these questions, Mr. Demirkan is accountable to American Tax payers and is mistaken if he thinks he can not be transparent and fly by on this school. Demirkan can open his school but it is doubtful he will have many students, wishful thinking that they will even be around in 2015. Learn more about the Gulen Movement by reading what Ex-FBI Turkish translator Sibel Edmonds, Dr. Aland Mizell or Dr. Joshua Hendricks (an ex-paid speaker for the Gulen Movemetn) have to say about the dangers of this group. They are NOT scholars in fact Turkey is ranked 32 out of 34 countries on the OCED testing -below standard above Chile and Mexico. In Turkey there are over 300,000 turkish teachers out of work. Learn more about their h1-B visa abuses that American tax money is paying for. http://www.gulencharterschools.weebly.com http://www.charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com http: //www.charterschoolwatchdog.com (read entry "teachers with guns") http://www.gulenschoolsworldwide.blogspot.com http://www.gulencharterschoolsUSA.blogspo.com
MarkMunoz March 31, 2011 at 01:17 AM
Amazing that they get away with so many lies, but even more pathetic is the enablers like the Board of Commissioners et al. Curious if they have recieved one of the famous FREE trips to Turkey from this group as so many other polticians, media and academia have. Ah, the truth shall set you free. Until then these schools and the Gulen Movement will remain under watchful eyes and in many cases be denied as they have in Hawaii, Colorado, Louisana, etc.,
mike April 08, 2011 at 01:50 AM
I think it will be a great school for baldwin school district. Charter schools are nonsectarian public schools of choice that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools. The benefits of charter schools are Increase opportunities for learning and access to quality education for all students Create choice for parents and students within the public school system Provide a system of accountability for results in public education Encourage innovative teaching practices Create new professional opportunities for teachers Encourage community and parent involvement in public education Leverage improved public education broadly
MarkMunoz April 08, 2011 at 07:22 AM
Mike speaks like a true member of Hizmet, it is all so predictable. Good luck Mike and to the members of Hizmet, look in the mirror when you tell lies to parents. After all, it is part of Hocaefendi's grand ambition so your lying is justified. Stealing educational tax monies to promote your Turkocentric curriculum is far from a diverse atmosphere. And don't plan on getting any community involvement - unless you plan on handing out your "free samples" of Noah's Pudding. Even that is getting old. Nothing about these schools is innovative or novel, it is the same sh*t different state/country. This model of hierarchy with Gulen foundations/insitutes layered on each school is the way to money launder. Say it loud and clear...RACKETEERING and RICO act. Check out Ex-FBI Turkish Translator Sibel Edmonds latest article. Happy reading. http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2011/04/05/turkish-imam-fethullah-gulen-nabs-george-bush-pr-queen/
MarkMunoz April 08, 2011 at 04:47 PM
WHY IT'S WRONG: REASONS THE GULEN MOVEMENT SHOULD NOT BE RUNNING OUR CHARTER SCHOOLS Why is it wrong that the Gulen Movement is running an interconnected network of over a hundred publicly-funded charter schools in the United States? If a one-sentence answer is required, it is that the schools are run for the benefit of the Gulen Movement, not for the benefit of students or the public. This is explained in more depth below. Part of the reason can be found in a story that the Philadelphia Inquirer ran on March 20, 2011, entitled “U.S. charter-school network with Turkish link draws federal attention” discussing how federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, the Department of Education and the FBI, are investigating the Gulen charter schools because of concerns that Gulenist employees are systematically kicking back part of their salaries to the Movement. READ entire article here: http://gulencharterschoolsusa.blogspot.com/2011/04/gulen-charter-schools-why-gulen.html
Gulen Charters Schools October 27, 2011 at 09:00 PM
i am so confused about those conversations gulen movement and gulen charter schools are good or bad I saw so many gulen charters blog such as http://gulenchartersschools.blogspot.com/ you cannot understand what it is about. interesting
MarkMunoz October 28, 2011 at 01:37 AM
Gulen Charter Schools, stop denying the "undeniable" Why are you ashamed to say you are a follower of Gulen? Does this seem strange to you that you cannot freely admit your affiliation with Hizmet? It is best to leave a group that you are not free to speak about or discuss your platform. Many have left your group and give good information to government officials. You also get no hits from me.
lin November 17, 2012 at 04:28 PM
kudos to yswpa baldwin and all the staff.my great grandson has only been there since beginning of this school year and is already doing counting and speaking some spanish and turkish.plus the math progam has him above the curve.thank you thank you thank you.he just loves going to school
Veronica January 02, 2013 at 03:17 AM
This school is really wonderful. I finally found a wonderful environment that emphasizes learning foreign languages and embraces differences. I think the ideas set forth are putting my children on the road for success. I would ignore all this other nonsense paranoia Gulen ramblings that are posted here. It sounds like he is trying to create a problem where there is none. Besides, from what I have read, Gulen seems like a reasonable man!

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