Settlement Approved in Muslim Charter School Case

Settlement Approved in Muslim Charter School Case October 11, 2011

The ACLU announced this week that a federal judge has approved the settlement in their lawsuit against a Muslim charter school in Minnesota over violations of the Establishment Clause.

United States District Court Judge Donovan Frank approved a partial settlement of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota’s lawsuit against the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, the Minnesota Department of Education, the School’s former sponsor, Islamic Relief, and various school officials.

The ACLU-MN commenced this landmark lawsuit in 2009 to end the use of public funds to promote religion at TiZA. TiZA is now closed because it could not secure an authorizer to replace its original sponsor, Islamic Relief. An authorizer is required in Minnesota for all public charter schools.

The settlement includes new procedures to prevent charter schools from committing some of the same offenses that the group that owned this school committed. It also includes the release of a long list of stipulated facts:

Additionally, Judge Frank authorized the release of a fact statement compiled by the ACLU-MN, the Commissioner, and Islamic Relief. These facts are backed by evidence and the three parties believe that they should not be in dispute. The fact statement outlines a number of the violations perpetrated by TiZA.

Here are a few highlights from the fact statement:

* TiZA illegally transferred money to its religious landlords (stipulated fact # 68)

* TiZA was marketed to the Muslim community as a school that would follow Islamic law (stipulated facts #: 8, 9, 18, 20, 22, 27, 45, 48, 66, 70, 135)

* TiZA and its religious landlords are effectively controlled by the same small group of people (stipulated facts # 1 – 7, 11, 33, 52, 53, 56, 63, 166 – 172)

* TiZA promoted Islam through its Arabic curriculum and its connection to the after school religious program (stipulated facts #84, 107, 108, 122 – 124, 126, 127, 163, 164)

* TiZA used taxpayer funds in excess of a million dollars to renovate buildings to the benefit of their religious landlords (stipulated facts # 28, 67, 91 – 95)

But don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll still hear the wingnuts complain that the ACLU only ever goes after Christians because they secretly support Al Qaeda.

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