A Twin Cities charter school is making changes after accusations that it endorsed Islamic studies at taxpayer expense.
Since 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigated TIZA Academy in Inver Grove Heights on Wednesday, the school's attorney has said several changes would be made.
The most noticeable -- an American flag now flies over the school for the first time since the academy was founded in 2003.
The attorney told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that it was a difficult day for staff and parents, as people from across the country inundated the school with threats and messages of hate after hearing what substitute Amanda Getz, of Bloomington, said she observed at the school.
TIZA Executive Director Azad Zaman insisted the school follows state and federal laws.
"Frankly I actually don't know how to work that flagpole. For five years it has sat empty," he said Wednesday.
Minnesota state law requires all public schools to fly the American flag while school is in session. Even though TIZA Academy raised the flag on Thursday, its lawyers insisted the flag law didn't apply to charter schools.
"At the end of the day, 'Islamic studies' was written on the board and from my knowledge, you're not allowed to have any religious studies during school and they said they were studying the Koran," Getz said.
She said her issue is not with Muslims, but rather with what she felt was the presence of religion at the taxpayer-supported school.
"TIZA does not endorse any religion," Zaman told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Wednesday. "We're required under the federal guidelines to allow students to pray when they wish to do so. And as Muslim students, they're allowed to pray around 1:30 p.m., so we allow them to do that."
TIZA Academy is sponsored by Islamic Relief USA, based in California.
Zaman said the ‘Islamic studies' offered after school, is a program students can choose to participate in.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS contacted a parent who has two children at TIZA Academy. The parent said her children were excelling in science and mathematics and have never been forced to participate in Islamic practices.
"We want to make good American citizens," Zaman said.
The State Board of Education said there is ambiguity concerning what is required of charter schools regarding flying the American flag and the legislature must clarify those grey areas.
The American Civil Liberties Union is looking into the situation but cannot act unless and until someone files an official complaint.