via Summit Charter school’s shaky start continues – TwinCities.com. h/t Atlas Shrugs
The opening of a Dakota County charter school has been derailed after questions were raised about possible ties to a Muslim organization and a now-defunct charter investigated for teaching Islam.
Summit Charter School was scheduled to open in Inver Grove Heights next month, but Innovative Quality Schools, or IQS, the authorizer charged with overseeing the school, announced Wednesday that it would delay the opening by one year.
Tom Tapper, IQS managing director, said his organization’s board voted to delay Summit’s opening not because of suspected religious ties, but over concerns about its planned home. The building is already occupied by STEP Academy charter school and the Muslim American Society of Minnesota.
“Quite frankly, it related to the size; there is already a school there, and it is growing,” he said.
But concerns about Summit go deeper than real estate.
The decision not to allow Summit to open comes after a June complaint to the Minnesota Department of Education that claims the new school has close ties to the leaders of the former Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, or TiZA, and the Muslim American Society of Minnesota.
TiZA went bankrupt and then closed in 2011 after a flurry of lawsuits that centered on allegations that the school taught Islam and funneled state money meant to educate students to religious organizations. A lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union was settled in 2012 and included a “stipulation of facts” that essentially acknowledged that the school promoted Islam and funneled some money to faith-based groups.
Federal and state laws prohibit public schools from advancing religious beliefs or financially supporting religious institutions. Minnesota schools are allowed to share or rent space from religious groups as long as there is clear separation between the public school and religious institution.
Magdy Rabeaa, a former TiZA administrator tapped to lead the new Summit school, declined a phone interview but said in an email that no other staff members from TiZA or religious groups are part of the new charter. As of Thursday, Rabeaa wrote that he was Summit’s only employee and the school had renewed its search for a school building.
In a letter to the State Department of Education, Tapper reiterated Rabeaa’s responses in detail. He said IQS investigated the complaint filed with the state and found no credible links between the new Summit Charter School and TiZA or any religious organizations.
Asad Zaman, the former TiZA executive director who now leads the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, said there is no connection between his organization and Summit or any other charter school. He added that academic and religious spaces at the Inver Grove Heights facility are separated.
On July 13, state education leaders decided to delay the new school’s first state aid payment until IQS officials assured state leaders that Summit was ready to open.
Summit’s founders applied July 2 for state aid to make $300,000 in annual lease payments to rent about 23,000 square feet of space from building owner Minnesota Education Trust. TiZA rented the same space from the Muslim American Society of Minnesota for a similar fee, but that rent grew significantly as the school enrolled more students, court records show.
In the same building as Summit would be the Muslim American Society of Minnesota and STEP Academy, a charter school also authorized by IQS.
Asif Rahman is listed as the principal officer of the Minnesota Education Trust. The ACLU lawsuit detailed Rahman’s ties to TiZA and the Muslim American Society of Minnesota.
Rahman did not respond to a request for comment.
Same building, same admin, and same Muslim Brotherhood slum lord. Only the names have changed. Much more on TIZA here.
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