MAY 20, 2008
Minnesota’s Department of Education has finally ordered a public school that caters to Muslims and promotes Islamic religion to stop violating a law that states taxpayer-funded institutions must be nonsectarian.
The Tarik ibn Zayad Academy is a public charter school in
Inver Grove Heights with an enrollment of about 400 students in grades kindergarten through eighth. A Muslim imam is the school’s director and the campus shares the headquarters building of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota whose mission is “establishing Islam” in the sate. The building also has a mosque.
The curriculum includes Islamic studies and students pray at least half an hour each day. The cafeteria serves special halal food (permissible under Islamic law) and the school doesn’t provide bus service for students immediately after classes because all are expected to stay for the extracurricular religious studies course offered by the Muslim American Society.
These blatant violations were exposed by an appalled substitute teacher, who told a local newspaper columnist about her unbelievable experience at the Muslim academy. The state’s lax department of education had fended off several calls to investigate the school, but the agency didn’t actually do it until the damaging information was published in the newspaper.
In its report the Minnesota Department of Education orders the school to take appropriate corrective actions to stop violating the law with its prayer sessions. It points out that the 30-minute prayers take up too much time and therefore the school may not be teaching students the state-mandated amount of hours. The prayers could also be a burden to non-praying students.
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