A Saint Paul, Minnesota charter school catering to Muslims complies with federal and state laws, the state Education Department said, but it suggested changes be made in religious areas. The state recommended the Tarik ibn Zayad Academy change its bussing schedule and handling of Friday prayer services, saying that shorter prayer services on most days were acceptable, but a 30-minute block for Friday prayers was not acceptable. The Education Department investigated into the school after a substitute teacher alleged that the school was offering Islamic religious instruction to its students. Minnesota state law requires charter schools to have more autonomy than traditional public schools, but maintains that they must be nonsectarian. The schools executive director, Asad Zaman, said that the findings were significant as no problems were found with the school’s curriculum, but they will comply with the recommended changes.
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked local law enforcement and the FBI to investigate threats against a charter school, citing possible hate crimes. The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy in Inver Groves Heights has allegedly been receiving harassing and threatening messages, after recent public criticism of the school in the Star Tribune Newspaper. The school has received criticism for receiving public funds in conjunction with accusations of teaching Islam. However, Asad Zaman, executive director of the academy responded to the criticism saying: We do not teach religion. We do not favor any religion. Currently, more than 300 students attend the school.