The former director of the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy has reached a tentative agreement to settle a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, but details of the deal will not be released until a judge approves the terms.
"I can't talk about it," ACLU-Minnesota executive director Chuck Samuelson said repeatedly Monday, April 16, when asked about the tentative settlement. Asad Zaman, executive director of the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, or TiZA, did not respond to a call seeking comment.
The ACLU sued TiZA in 2009, alleging the charter school taught Islam using taxpayer money in violation of the "establishment clause" of the U.S. Constitution that separates church and state. The group also claimed TiZA's leaders, its landlord and the Muslim American Society of Minnesota had "blurred" lines of control, resulting in millions of dollars in taxpayer money going to religious groups.
The charter school, with locations in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine, had high test scores and a waiting list before legal costs and other pressures forced it to close last summer.
Last month, the ACLU agreed to settle claims in the school's bankruptcy case for $1.4 million. The group initially sought to recoup $2.4 million in legal fees and other costs.
Samuelson has said the ACLU wants a "bright-line" settlement of the civil case that will set a precedent for charter schools.
Online federal court records show the deal was reached after a conference April 5 and is awaiting the approval of U.S. District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank. It is unclear how long that will take.
"I would say later rather than sooner," Samuelson said. "The pace of this case has been very deliberate. I don't anticipate anything coming quickly."