About 100 charter schools in 25 states have been questioned for their link to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish peace advocate. The schools emphasize math and science and generally outperform their counterparts.
Some of the schools have been criticized for influencing students to accept Islam ideals and philosophies as a result of the school being "Gulen-inspired." Gulen claims no connection with any of the schools.
Fethullah Gulen promotes peace and communication between Turkey and Western cultures. Since 1999 Gulen has lived in the United States. Earlier this summer, Gulen critized Turkish involvement in the flotilla that attempted to deliver aid to Israel's Gaza Strip. Gulen said the Turkish aid group should have sought permission from Israeli leaders before attempting to deliver aid.
The Lotus School for Excellence in Aurora was founded by a group of individuals with connections to Turkey. The school originally opened as a secondary school and is adding an elementary school for this school year. Their grand opening celebration will be later this week where they have expanded their campus by taking over more of the church facility they occupy.
Last year Lotus leaders submitted new charter school applications in the St. Vrain Valley School District and Jefferson County School District. They later withdrew their application from St. Vrain, but appealed the charter denial out of Jeffco to the State Board of Education. Lotus lost that appeal.
A significant portion of the appeal hearing centered on the school's academic achievement data, which was mixed with some small gains. According to this year's Growth Model data, Lotus made Adequate Growth in reading, but not in math or writing.
Lotus plans to submit at least one more charter school application this fall.