Charter school under fire, again


Very generally speaking, the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy in Inver Grove Heights won the battle with Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten over allegations in Kersten’s columns (here and here) that the charter school was teaching religion.

The Minnesota Department of Education issued its findings of an investigation into the allegations. The department recommended a couple of actions to — as MPR’s Tim Nelson wrote — “better separate religious and school activities.”

MinnPost’s David Brauer did a nice job of comparing Kersten’s charges with the department’s findings.

But the school lost the public relations war when the head of the school apparently roughed up a cameraman — I mean, photojournalist — for KSTP. Maybe the news crew was trespassing, maybe not. But it’s a bad idea to be seen attacking a camera crew, even if you think you have cause.

The best footage of the assault actually came from KARE 11 (Watch). It shows a less violent confrontation than a shaking, turning upside down, camera shot usually suggests, but it was a confrontation nonetheless.

KARE 11 also provided some factoids that KSTP did not:

The school said the crew did not ask for permission to come onto school property and had been told by police to stay across the street.

Zaman said the crew did not identify itself.

“I did not ask police not to let Channel 5 on the property,” Zaman said. “I asked police to tell those unidentified individuals to leave the property.”

KARE 11 had phoned in advance to request permission to videotape on school grounds and was recording video when the confrontation took place.

Inver Grove Heights Police Officer Steve Her confirmed to KARE 11 he told the KSTP crew not to come on the school property before the confrontation happened.

KSTP reporter Chris O’Connell said he and his photographer were not told to stay off the school property.

In the video, O’Connell tells Asad Zaman, the head of the school, that nobody told the crew they couldn’t film. There’s also an interesting segment of the altercation in which a colleague of Zaman’s pokes him in the chest, and then points at the microphone on the camera, apparently to warn him.

  • GregS

    MinnPost’s David Brauer did a nice job of comparing Kersten’s charges with the department’s findings.


    What appears to me, is that Mr. Brauer is not a neutral observer here. How do we know this? In a previous column Mr. Brauer proudly proclaimed his bias in favor of the academy.

    What Mr. Brauer and MPR should be asking is how does the Minnesota Department of Education know what it knows.

    How did the MDE get its information?

    From who? The officials at the academy?

    Where there unannounced inspections?

    We know the allegations were obtained from a whistle-blower on the inside, whose integrity Mr. Brauer chose to spend his time attacking rather than investigating the truth of the allegation.

    There appears to be a double-standard here. If an inside whistle blower at Northwest Airlines made allegations of safe violations, would someone like Mr. Brauer attack the whistle blower for “union motives”?

    Would Mr. Brauer gleefully accept the “findings” of a snap announced FCC compliance inspection?

    I doubt it.

  • Jamal

    Looks like EyeWitness News had NOTHING to cover but to POKE that school without proper authorization:-)

    to me it seems like they (News) went there to dig out something by the name of religion (Islam) and make peace loving people fool in our greater community.

  • Bob Collins

    //If an inside whistle blower at Northwest Airlines made allegations of safe violations,

    “Inside whistleblower” makes it sound like an employee with knowledge. Take the recent Southwest whistleblower case. That was a person not only with years of experience and expertise, but authority.

    Contrast that to your definition of “inside whistleblower”, a person who was sent over to sub on her first day on the job.

    As Brauer correctly pointed out, Kersten herself should’ve gone to the school AND the school should’ve talked to her.

    But nobody who uses third-hand information without confirmation from an uninformed person should lecture anyone on the proper application of journalistic principles.