An ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) lawsuit against the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy claims that the charter school has crossed the line that separates church and state. TiZA, as the school is known, serves mostly immigrant children, many of them from Muslim countries. The ACLU claims that classroom time is lost as the school sets aside time for Muslim prayer, and that such lost time is not made up.
The lawsuit also questions the relationship between the academy and its charter school sponsor, California-based Islamic Relief USA. It claims that a prayer is illegally posted at the school’s entrance, and questions the school’s dress code – including prohibiting girls from wearing short sleeves. “This is in many respects – almost all respects – a religious school, like a private religious school, except for one key thing: there’s state money going in there,” according to Chuck Samuelson, the ACLU’s executive director. If TiZA were private, no lawsuit would exist, claims the ACLU.