An Inver Grove Heights charter school is suing state education officials over allegations that some of their teachers lack proper licenses.
According to the lawsuit, filed by Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy Thursday in Ramsey County District Court, the Minnesota Department of Education notified the academy on June 1 that the state would withhold $1.4 million in aid as a penalty for violating teacher licensure rules.
TiZA lawyer Erick Kaardal argues the department never provided the school with all the public documents they asked for relating to the case — a violation of the Minnesota Data Practices Act.
As a result, school officials claim, they did not have enough information or time to properly defend themselves at a July 7 hearing to appeal the fines.
Deputy Education Commissioner Chas Anderson said statements by TiZA representatives contained misinformation. Anderson said the department will defend itself in court.
"The department takes seriously its responsibility to comply with the Minnesota Data Practices Act," Anderson said in a written statement.
TiZA also contends the department improperly took away $124,500 in state aid before a final determination had been made. School officials said the department has not yet made a decision on the appeal.
The lawsuit comes at a time when TiZA is defending itself in another legal battle. The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota sued the school in January, arguing the tax-supported public charter school is blurring the line between religion and public education by promoting Islam.
That suit argues that the school violates the First Amendment and the Constitution by sharing space with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, promoting prayer in school and endorsing Muslim clothing rules and dietary practices.
The state Department of Education, the school's sponsor, and several school leaders also were named in the suit filed in U.S. District Court.
TiZA, which was founded in 2003, has about 480 students in kindergarten through eighth grade at campuses in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine. The charter school was supposed to receive approximately $4 million in per-pupil state funding this past school year.