**Update** Someone at Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy has been reading and forwarding this blog post! Do you think I did them justice?
I first told you about the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, the Minnesota charter school catering to muslims on the taxpayer’s dime, in May. At the time my post, Taxpayer Funded Minnesota Madrassa, was the subject of ongoing investigative reports by Katherine Kersten and a substitute teacher Amanda Getz.
On Wednesday January 21st, after completing their own investigation, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the school citing clear separation of church and state violations. Named as defendants in the suit were TIZA Executive Director Asad Zaman, Islamic Relief USA, the school's sponsor, the Minnesota Department of Education and Commissioner of Education Alice Seagren.
The lawsuit said TIZA has close ties with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, "linked by a complex interconnecting set of personal, corporate, and operational relationships," including:
1) Both of the school's campuses are leased from the sectarian organization. The Inver Grove Heights campus is in the same building and address as the Muslim American Society of Minnesota mosque and headquarters. The Muslim American Society of Minnesota's Blaine chapter has used the telephone number of the TIZA Blaine campus to conduct business.
2) An after-school Muslim studies program has been offered by the Muslim American Society at the Inver Grove Heights campus and has conducted prayer sessions at TIZA during school hours.
The lawsuit also argues that "TIZA endorses the Muslim religion by permitting a prayer to be posted prominently in the school's entryway, Muslim prayer sessions to be held during school hours and teacher-sanctioned religious material to be posted on classroom bulletin boards.The school allows students and teachers to gather every Friday during school hours for 30-minute communal prayer led by parents or volunteers." and; "TIZA also prefers Muslim clothing rules by prohibiting girls, but not boys, from wearing short sleeves and requiring them to wear skirts or trousers that are a specific length."
But there's more; according to the complaint, Asad Zaman serves as executive director, trustee and principal of TIZA and is also vice president of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, the religious organization that leases space to the school. MeThinks there's a clear conflict of interest that should have been noticed by the Minnesota school board.