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Update on Minnesota Public School Confrontation

May 21, 2008
News crew confronted at public school  
School reports and related document links below
KSTP News: (update from yesterday's report)
In an attempt to report about the new findings from the department of education Monday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS went to Tarik ibn Zayad Academy in Inver Grove Heights. While on school grounds, our crew was confronted by school officials. Our photographer was injured while wrestling with the two men over the camera. (video update possible criminal charges)

Our photographer was examined by paramedics, who suffered minor shoulder and back injuries.

Inver Grove Heights Police are investigating possible charges against the TiZA officials involved in the confrontation and trespassing charges against 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

A deciding factor in whether criminal charges will be filed could be a conversation with an officer called to the school while 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was filming the property from a public street 20 minutes before the confrontation.

The officer did tell our crew that the school did not want us there, but the video confirms the officer never told the crew they had to leave.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has made several attempts to contact TiZA officials for comment, but our calls have not been returned.

What brought our crew to the school on Monday was for comment after the Minnesota Department of Education's review of the conduct at the school.

TiZA focuses on Middle Eastern culture and shares a mosque with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. The charter school had recently fallen under fire after a teacher alleged that the school was offering religious instruction in Islam to its students.

The state subsequently conducted a review of the south Metro charter school. 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," said the state's education Deputy Commissioner Chas Anderson.

The agency said it was concerned about the school, with about 300 students, accommodating communal prayer and providing transportation to an after-school religious program.

"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.
State's Findings(pdf doc)
Tiza Academy Response(pdf doc)
Last Month's article (see Metro charter school accused of teaching Islam)
A Star Tribune newspaper column has prompted a state investigation into a charter school. A substitute teacher said a school in Inver Grove Heights is blurring the line of separation of church and state.

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