Judge: No More Witness Intimidation

Brian Fitzpatrick, WorldNetDaily, January 12, 2011

Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, a publicly funded Minnesota charter school, twice has been ordered by a federal district court to stop intimidating witnesses while fighting an ACLU lawsuit alleging violations of the constitutional prohibition against government endorsement of religion.

“The school’s tactics have gone far beyond the usual rough-and-tumble of lawyers in our adversary system,” wrote Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten. “Its chief tool has been attempted intimidation of all who would draw back the curtain on its secrets.”

Minnesota’s federal district court has twice ordered the school, which has campuses in the Minneapolis suburbs of Inver Grove Heights and Blaine, to stop intimidating witnesses in the case.

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In Jan. 2010, the court forbade any witness intimidation by either party after a former TiZA parent and a former TiZA staff member complained the school threatened them with violence.

As previously reported by WND, the former staff member testified in an affidavit that TiZA executive director Asad Zaman told her, “We could just kill you, yeah tell your husband we’ll do his job for him.” In his own affidavit, Zaman said he didn’t remember making the statement.

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TiZA spokesman Blois Olsen declined to comment on the case, but he did send the following statement by the academy:

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“Instead of wasting our time, energy and taxpayer dollars on a lawsuit rooted in the politics of the previous administration, we hope that the new administration and the ACLU begin to strongly consider the consequences to Minnesota’s children. Most critically those children of color who we must close the academic gap to help.

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“TiZA uses government money to endorse a religion, in this case Islam,” Minnesota ACLU Executive Director Chuck Samuelson told WND. “Money was being funneled to the mosque that owns the building” through rent payments.

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TiZA, a K-8 school, has about 500 students, many the children of immigrants. All students receive “tuition-free education,” according to the academy’s website.

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