Minnesota's publicly funded Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, which first was revealed by Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten to be led by two Muslim imams and share an address of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, is closing.
After Kersten reported the school's agenda, school officials were accused of attacking a television news crew cameraman who was working on a story and were accused of telling an assistant, "We could just kill you."
Eventually, a federal judge ordered the school to stop intimidating witnesses while it fought a lawsuit brought by the ACLU over its activities.
Now, a report from Act! for America, the organization that seeks to create a nationwide network of chapters to educate and mobilize Americans about the threats from radical Islam, confirms that the school is closing.
"In early 2008, in one of the first grassroots activism efforts launched by ACT! for America, we helped bring nationwide exposure to a taxpayer-funded charter school that was clearly engaging in unlawful Islamic proselytizing in the school," the organization reported.
"Act! for America members contacted the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota elected officials, even the ACLU, demanding action. Guy Rodgers, ACT! for America executive director, talked to a top official at the Minnesota Department of Education, who assured him they would investigate – and they did. Their investigation resulted in two citations against the school," the report said.
Now, the report said, the school has filed for bankruptcy.
"The lesson here? Grassroots activism works," the organization said.
According to a new report this week in the Star-Tribune, the academy's board voted not to appeal a state decision that forced the closure. Instead, members opted to close down and dissolve in a bankruptcy court proceeding.
But even as that vote took place, officials for the academy said they were "considering" their options, and a daylong event was held in which parents were encouraged to sign their children up for classes in what apparently was being promoted as a private school.
The statements surprised U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel, who questioned what "options" were under consideration.
The bankruptcy court proceeding involves three creditors: the state; the school's former "authorizer," Islamic Relief USA; and the ACLU.
The newspaper said school attorney Mark Azman explained the school didn't see the need for a trustee, but ACLU attorney Peter Lancaster suggested that there needs to be a safeguard against "any effort to use public money to set up a private Islamic school."
The ACLU's lawsuit alleged that the school illegally used tax funds to promote Islam.
The organization's bankruptcy filing came the day before a new state law disqualified Islamic Relief from overseeing the school, forcing the closure, and just hours after the state denied a request for the school to switch authorizers, the newspaper reported.
Another recent report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press said the parents' attempt to start a private school involved trying to collect registrations for what would be called "Blaine Academy."
It was on a Muslim message board that parent Fayyaz Khan suggested a new – private – school.
The Pioneer Press said Khan posted the statement, "Establishing and running a private school is a huge task; therefore, we need full support from the community to make it successful."
School officials had complained bitterly about the circumstances that brought about the closure.
"TiZA is disappointed with the federal court decision. Based on the statements from the Minnesota Department of Education, we now expect the state will seek to close the school without any hearing or opportunity to defend itself," the organization said in a news release when the decision was announced.
WND reported at the time that Kersten revealed that the academy, named after a Muslim warlord who invaded Spain a millennium ago, featured a carpeted space for Islamic prayer, served halal food, had all students fast during Ramadan and an after-school classes for students on the Quran.
The Minnesota Department of Education confirmed the academy pocketed more than $65,000 in state money for the 2006-2007 year under one program alone.
Kersten reported the school's principal was Asad Zaman, and the school's co-founder is Hesham Hussein, both imams and leaders of the Muslim Amerian Society-Minnesota.
After the academy was launched in 2003, they "played dual roles: Zaman as TIZA's principal and the current vice-president of MAS-MN, and Hussein as TIZA's school board chair and president of MAS-MN until his death in a car accident in Saudi Arabia in January," she reported.
The K-8 school had about 500 students at its peak, many the children of immigrants. All students received "tuition-free education," according to the academy's website.