Middle East studies in the News
Investigation Clears Allegations Brought Against Summit Charter School [incl. Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy]
by Erin Hinrichs
On July 22, the new Summit Charter School, which had hoped to begin operating in Inver Grove Heights this September, announced it would no longer be open for the upcoming school year.
News of the delay coincided with the release of an investigative report by the school's authorizer, Innovative Quality Schools, which cleared a number of allegations against Summit.
The allegations — largely tied to speculation that Summit might endorse religion in the classroom — were brought to the attention of the Minnesota Department of Education in June and were forwarded on to IQS, the entity responsible for making sure Summit Charter School is operating in compliance with Minnesota laws.
Allegations issued against the school raised concern that Summit would be following in the footsteps of the now defunct Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy charter school, which operated at the same Inver Grove Heights school building until 2011. The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota brought TiZA to court over allegations that the school was using state funds to support Islamic practices in the classroom.
According to Summit's executive director Magdy Rabeaa, the two schools are not connected. Summit's delay, he told the Review, could be attributed to the need for a building with more space to properly implement its science, technology, engineering and mathematics educational program.
After hiring the services of an attorney to vet any possible connections between Summit and TiZA — among other allegations — Tom Tapper, managing director of IQS, reported that Summit passed inspection.
"As Summit's leasing situation and federal and state revenue are currently in flux, IQS has not certified Summit as ready to open for the 2015-16 school year," Tapper wrote in the report. "Thus, IQS is working with Summit to determine the most appropriate location for its school which may not be the present Inver Grove Heights location."
Summit administrators had hoped to open the new charter school in a portion of the former Inver Groves Heights Elementary School at 4100 66th St. E.
Addressing each allegation, one-by-one, IQS reported that the former executive director of TiZA, Asad Zaman, has no connection to Summit.
Also, while a list of students seeking enrollment at Summit for the upcoming school year did yield a large number of traditional Muslim names, the school showed proof that recruitment efforts were targeting a diverse student population.
In terms of Summit's proposed dress code, IQS found it to be "gender neutral" and not consistent with any particular religion.
In exhausting every allegation, IQS made it clear that the complainant failed to provide them with evidence to substantiate various allegations against Rabeaa and Summit.
"We were unable to substantiate any verifiable grievances have been made against Rabeaa let alone any that evidence a violation of the Charter School Law or other law," Tapper wrote.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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