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Pigs fly. Hell freezes over. ACLU sues Muslims over publicly-funded madrassa

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 21, 2009 06:28 PM

Mirabile dictu! The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the government-subsidized Muslim charter school in Minnesota.

You’ll recall that Katharine Kersten did terrific investigative reporting of the CAIR-supported public school, called “TIZA” (Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy). In a rare stand against their left-wing fellow travelers, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the academy’s use of taxpayer dollars to promote Islam:

The Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says it’s suing a charter school that caters to Muslim students.

The ACLU names Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, or TiZA, and the Minnesota Department of Education in a lawsuit in federal court that says the charter school is using taxpayer money to illegally promote religion.

The charter school, which has campuses in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine, has fallen under fire after a substitute teacher claimed the school was offering religious instruction in Islam to its students.

After investigating the school last year, the Education Department said the school hadn’t broken any laws. In a statement issued Wednesday, the department saiad they’re ‘carefully reviewing the lawsuit and will thoroughly respond.’

“We will continue to monitor the operations of TiZA Academy and, in response to issues raised about the school over the past year, we are in the process of drafting legislation to address these concerns,” wrote Deputy Commissioner Chas Anderson.

The state’s report directed the charter school to “correct” two areas related to religion at the school.

“The Minnesota Department of Education goes to great lengths to make clear to charter schools and their sponsors that, while schools should appropriately accommodate students’ religious beliefs, they must be ‘nonsectarian’ under the state’s charter school law,” Anderson said in May.

The department noted concerned about the school accommodating communal prayer and providing transportation to an after-school religious program for its approximately 300 students.

“We have directed the school to take appropriate corrective actions regarding these matters and will continue to provide oversight to ensure that the school is in compliance with state and federal law,” Anderson said.

More from the Star-Tribune:

“TIZA has received millions of dollars of taxpayer money to support what is, in essence, a private religious school,” said Charles Samuelson, state ACLU executive director.

The school, which has one campus in Inver Grove Heights and a smaller site in Blaine, had about 430 K-8 students last year, most of them Muslim. The public charter school, founded in 2003, receives per-pupil funding from the state that the ACLU said is expected to total $3.8 million for the current school year…

…Samuelson said the school took government aid money and paid it to a holding company which then donated it to the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. The money was used to pay for rent, according to the suit. He said that the school, holding company and the society were all incorporated on the same day by the same people, which Samuelson said was a conflict of interest. “They created legal fictions, but it’s the same organization,” Samuelson said.

The suit also alleges that there are prayers on the walls of the school entry and that teachers have participated in student prayer activities, which is forbidden in public schools. Samuelson said the school has used its website to seek volunteers to lead prayers. He also said that students and staff are required to dress in attire that conforms to Islamic religion.

The school has issued a handbook instructing staff to not discuss what goes on at the school, Samuelson said. “You cannot have a broad secrecy oath” in a school funded with public dollars, he said.

The ACLU investigation was prompted by a column about the school’s practices by Katherine Kersten, a former columnist for the Star Tribune, Samuelson said.

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