ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The management issues cited at the Fulton Science Academy in a recent audit have apparently been in place since the school opened, and may have laid the groundwork for its eventual demise as a publicly funded charter school.
The inaugural school year was only halfway through in 2003 when Fulton County School System officials were drawn into what was described as “serious problems” on the governing board of the FSA. According to a news article published in March 2003 in Appen Newspapers, “a serious rift has developed on the [FSA] board of directors over who is in control, essentially splitting the seven-member board into two factions with each side accusing the other of illegal activities.”
Parent members of the school’s governing board sought to remove the principal, Selim Ozdemir, but maintained they were stymied by the founding trustees who essentially took over as the majority on the governing board.
The founding board originated the charter for the school and was responsible only for running the nonprofit aspects of the school.
Parent members of the governing board said the trustees were supposed to cease activities related to the management of the school once the governing board was in place. Instead, the trustees appointed themselves into control of the governing board.
At the time, FSA was struggling with an enrollment of just over 200 students, after starting the year with 300.
Parents sought to dismiss Ozdemir because of what they saw as “the heavy-handedness of the school administrators” that caused the drop in students. They also noted much of the problem was culturally based, noting the principal, all three members of the founding board, as well as a significant number of faculty members, were Turkish.
Ozdemir remained as principal for five more years, at which time he became the director of the Grace Institute, which served as a quasi-vendor to FSA. Ozdemir was paid more than $100,000 a year in that position for two years.
The recent audit by the Fulton School System questioned what, if any, services or products were supplied by Grace, which received more than $500,000 from FSA in just the past two years, and which employed several former and current staff members.