CA: Another taxpayer funded Islamic school, more ethical challenges, fraud

Minnesota’s got one. Virginia and New York too. Add Caliph-ornia to the list. Your tax dollars at work. via FAME School Gets Extension of Its Charter Despite Audit – NYTimes.com.

A Fremont charter school that was the subject of a highly critical state audit will be allowed to operate, despite a continuing review by the Alameda County district attorney’s office.

The Alameda County Board of Education voted 5 to 0 Tuesday night, with two members absent, to extend the school’s charter for five years, regardless of the concerns expressed by the Alameda school superintendent that the school’s director may have engaged in unethical and inappropriate behavior.

Those facts, seemingly at odds, underscore the unusual status of charter schools. Intended as laboratories for educational innovation, they have broad latitude in many of their operations, and the authorities are often unclear or in disagreement about the extent of their oversight powers. The case of the FAME Public Charter School — its formal name is Families of Alameda for Multi-Cultural/Multi-Lingual Education — illustrates the bureaucratic no man’s land occupied by the schools.

Last year, state auditors pinpointed dozens of irregularities, including unusually high compensation of more than $336,663 for FAME’s director, Maram Alaiwat, for whom the school also bought a $75,000 Mercedes.

Maram Alaiwat, director

In interviews with The New York Times, former employees have described a climate of intimidation punctuated by capricious firings, and a purchasing process so haphazard that textbooks and writing materials were sometimes in short supply.

FAME, which had a budget of about $11 million in public money last year, may be an example of the management issues that can arise when a school’s primary overseers are part of a self-perpetuating, unelected four-member board, three of whose members have had family members either employed by the school or doing business with it.

The family relationships violate no law, but can raise questions about board members’ objectivity.

Among FAME’s 1,490 students are immigrants and local children, Muslims and Christians, and about half are home-schooled.

Half of the charter school’s students are home-schooled?

In interviews, she said that some aspects of FAME’s operations “seem unethical and inappropriate,” but that she had no authority to intervene.

Bruce Fuller, professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, said: “Once you get that charter, you’re exempt from almost all state education codes. You’re as free as a bird to operate outside the normal regulatory structure.”

Even critics of FAME praise its effort to educate children, particularly Muslims, who may feel alienated in regular public schools.

The obligatory statement of victimhood to justify the crimes.

The school’s reputation as a haven for Muslim students spread quickly. And yet one mother who brought her family here from the East Coast in 2005 so her children could attend FAME has become Ms. Alaiwat’s most prominent accuser, telling the authorities — and repeating in extensive interviews with The New York Times — that school money was used inappropriately.

That woman was also a school clerk. She said that over time she had become concerned about how public money was being used, and on May 8, 2008, she sent a signed six-page complaint to Superintendent Jordan with accompanying documents.

Ms. Jordan said that after finding the accusations “compelling,” she requested an extraordinary audit, which disclosed questionable school payments to Ms. Alaiwat, including some not reflected in her original W-2 tax forms. Ms. Alaiwat said this week that revised tax forms had been completed last month.

…the most serious accusation: that Ms. Alaiwat bought a condominium in Fremont and installed the employee’s family as rent-paying tenants.

Before Ms. Alaiwat bought the property, the woman said, she had told Ms. Alaiwat that she and her family could afford to pay rent of only $1,800 a month.

Then, the woman said, Ms. Alaiwat promoted her to office manager, from clerk, increasing her pay to $45,000 a year from $15 an hour. Ms. Alaiwat set her rent at $2,500, payable in cash, the woman said.

Ms. Alaiwat added that she had allowed the woman and her family to stay in the condo because she had said she was “going to be left homeless.”

The former employee denied those assertions, and provided records supporting her own account. She also provided The Times with bank deposit slips and e-mail messages to Ms. Alaiwat reflecting the rental payments for the condominium.

The employee was not alone in complaining about Ms. Alaiwat.

Ten former FAME employees interviewed described Ms. Alaiwat as having an explosive personality. “My dad was a cop,” said June Delane, a history teacher from 2006 to 2008. “I’m a good-size person, and she scared me.”

Many of those interviewed said Ms. Alaiwat fired employees capriciously. Alvin Burns, a former dean of student affairs who was fired by Ms. Alaiwat, said, “This woman was controlling this charter with an iron fist.”

Ms. Alaiwat said she and the board “do not tolerate incompetence and take active measures to remove staff who are not working in the best interest of our students and their families.”

Some of these former employees said that at the same time Ms. Alaiwat’s yearly compensation was rising — it is now $240,000 — school supplies like books were scarce.

“I think the teachers were sincere about trying to do things, but they were handicapped by not having books and supplies,” said Jerold Preston, a school principal in 2005.

Former employees said a crowd of teachers often gathered around the copy machine. “Teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade were Xeroxing books,” Ms. Delane said.

Ms. Alaiwat denied the teachers’ claims. Ms. Jordan said that she had never heard about a shortage of books but that she had heard numerous complaints about Ms. Alaiwat’s volatile behavior. But, she said, “we do not have the authority to make personnel changes.”

Despite the reported problems, Ms. Jordan said she had no choice but to recommend that FAME’s charter be extended after the school complied with the auditors’ recommendations.

You had a choice, you chose not to make it. Dhimmi.

10 Responses

  1. One does have to wonder if this isn’t a case of giving them enough rope to hang themselves.

    But, for some reason I doubt that…

  2. [...] jihad, and the stealth jihad. At least three Islamic schools in the U.S. – (see NYC and Caliphornia), funded with your infidel taxes, steadily implementing and enforcing Islamic sharia law in Dar al [...]

  3. Most of the homeschoolers enrolled are non-Muslims. They were part of a charter program called Bay Area School for Independent Study (BASIS) that somehow got incorporated into FAME. It happened before I started homeschooling my kids so I don’t know the details.

  4. I don’t see anything about the school teaching Islamic law… why do you call it an Islamic school? Because many students are Muslims. They are Americans whose parents pay taxes too. Why can their education be funded from the state like all the other kids? Charter schoools are public schools and are not allowed to teach religion.

    • The problem is not that it is an Islamic School. They don’t teach Islam. The CEO is a crook… Muslim or Non-Muslim she is a crook and she is bringing a bad image to muslims. I wish she would just resign.

  5. Shame on her!!!! She should just take off the hijab!!!

  6. The school has no Islamic program, the dress of the CEO has nothing to do with what is taught at this school. The CEO is an all American girl, she believes deeply in American values. Her critics here are accusing her of running a Sharia School while her Arab/Muslim critic are accusing her of being working for the FBI. The organization introduced the a collaborative program with the FBI to educate the kids about the FBI. The is a great opportunity for Arab/Muslim kids to get to know and learn about the FBI. If some of the kids chooses to work later in his/her career for the FBI this is a great achievement because the FBI will be adding badly needed language and cultural skills that will make security the USA a much more effective job. When the kids of this kind of school graduate and some pursue careers to enhance our national security we will be grateful for such an effort. Schools like this train young Americans to be important members of this society and contribute to make the USA even a greater country.

    Those who have anti Arab or Anti Muslim agenda are targeting the wrong institution to spread anti Arab and Anti Islam propaganda. When you understand this institution you will know it is anti American to attack it blindly.

    Those from the Arab/Muslim community who are attacking this institution and labeling it being an FBI operation are contributing to the harm done to the Arab/Muslim community because this community is very much under represented in the law enforcement agencies and the community will be better served when its own sons and daughters join the ranks of the FBI, the Justice department and the Customs and TSA. Much of the discrimination Arabs/Muslims suffer from is mainly because of ignorance about their language, religion and culture by the agencies that provide security and also the lack of participation of young Arab/Muslims in government agencies weaken the Arab/Muslim community. It is only people like Daniel Pipes who opposes having eloquent Arabs/Muslims joining the FBI.

  7. Maram Alaiwat is a psycho case. She is a liar and a thief. She collaborates with the FBI. BE AWARE OF THIS WOMAN!

  8. Do students and Teacher’s pray together at the site program? C

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