Should Massachusetts be afraid of Fethullah Gulen? That’s the question at the heart of the whispering campaign against the Pioneer Charter School of Science, a high-achieving public school in Everett whose loose connections to the influential Turkish religious figure came under heightened scrutiny when it sought state permission to expand to a second location in Saugus.
Gulen is a moderate Muslim cleric who emphasizes science and whose followers have started schools worldwide, including hundreds of charter schools in the United States. Pioneer’s director, Barish Icin, says the Everett school isn’t connected to Gulen, but some of the school’s choices suggest at least a casual link; the school has hired 16 Turkish science, math, or technology teachers with temporary visas, though only four are currently on the school’s staff. It has also contracted with a law firm tied to the Gulen movement.