The two columns by Star Tribune metro columnist Katherine Kersten on the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy public charter school in suburban St. Paul triggered an investigation of TIZA by the Minnesota Department of Education. They also triggered a demand for Kersten's resignation by Minnesota state Rep. Mindy Greiling, chair of the House of Representatives K-12 Finance Division. Greiling assured Minnesotans that everything at the school was A-OK based on her Potemkin Village tour of the school provided by principal Asad Zaman. We are still waiting to hear back from Greiling in response to our request that she identify any alleged error of fact in Kersten's column; we have also called on Greiling to resign.
Yesterday the department issued its findings in the investigation prompted by Kersten's columns. The Star Tribune reports on the findings in "State orders charter school to correct 2 areas tied to Islam." The findings vindicate Kersten's reportage, ordering the school to reform its practices concerning its weekly Friday prayer service and its extension of the school day. The department found that both of these practices crossed the line. (The department also found that the school's Monday-Thursday prayer services were student-led and therefore permissible. The department does not understand applicable constitutional law in this area.)
The department discussed the "after-school" Muslim Studies program run by the Muslim American Society/Minnesota, the state chapter of the national offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. MAS/Minnesota owns the building in which TIZA operates, runs a mosque in the building, and provides religious instruction at the end of the day. The department asserts that the Muslim Studies program is fee-based and voluntary. Zaman purports to be unable to provide statistics concerning enrollment in the Muslim Studies program. Zaman is not only the TIZA principal, however, he is also an officer of MAS/Minnesota. Who is kidding whom?
The Minnesota Department of Education's investigation is of the kind perfected by Inspector Clouseau. The department notes that Zaman requested department investigators not to interview witnesses in his absence from the school. It is a request that at the least speaks poorly of Zaman's approach to the investigation. Moreover, it is not clear from the report to what extent the department complied with Zaman's request.
KSTP Eyewitness News sent a reporter and crew out to TIZA to get a reaction to the Minnesota Department of Education findings from Zaman. KSTP reports that its crew was attacked by Zaman and another school official. Its cameraman was injured while wrestling with Zaman and his sidekick over the camera. In the video of the KSTP report, Zaman goes right for the cameraman's camera. Where is Clouseau's servant Kato when you need him? And what is it that Zaman does not want Minnesotans to see?
We called Greiling a thug when the Star Tribune posted her letter to the editor calling on the Star Tribune to fire her. In Greiling's case, the use of the term was metaphorical. Zaman is the real deal.