CLEVELAND: A company operating 16 publicly funded charter schools in Ohio improperly paid $13,000 in immigration and related fees for teachers it had recruited overseas, a television station reported.
State auditors repeatedly rejected the fees that Concept Schools and its Horizon Science Academies had paid for 19 Turkish immigrants, WEWS-TV reported. The station reviewed 10 years of state audits and reported that state auditors had asked for the money to be repaid.
The Ohio attorney general's office said it received payments Monday for the improper immigration and legal fees.
The company told the station it has stopped paying such fees. Phone and e-mail messages seeking additional comment were left at the company's Chicago offices Tuesday by The Associated Press.
Audits for 2005 said a Cleveland academy had paid $595 in immigration-related fees for an employee and a Toledo academy paid $297 in such fees.
The company said at the time that the fees for the Toledo employee were "no different than paying relocation expenses for new employees." The audit report rejected that, calling the fee "a direct benefit to the individual."
Concept Schools was founded in Ohio by two Turkish-American educators, according to its website.
A company vice president, Salim Ucan, told the station it recruits overseas because high-quality math and science teachers are hard to find. He said the academies provide a quality education.
Ten years ago, a quarter of academy teachers came from Turkey. Ucan said the share of overseas teachers has dropped to 8.5 percent 51 international teachers, mostly Turkish, among 596.