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Community Concerns about Summit Charter School and MAS-MN Exploiting Somali Youth

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Community Concerns about Summit Charter School and MAS-MN:

Exploiting Somali Youth, Abusing Community Members, Misusing Taxpayer Funds


As concerned community members and/or former TIZA parents, we have grave reservations for the upcoming Summit Charter School. The public charter school is scheduled to open in fall 2015 at the headquarters of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (MAS-MN) in Inver Grove Heights. This is the site of the former Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA). There is already a separate charter school in that building but they will likely be evicted to make room for Summit Charter School. Minnesota Education Trust (MET), an affiliate and creation of MAS-MN, is the current landlord for MAS-MN and will also be the landlord for Summit Charter School.

The Executive Director of Summit Charter School is longtime MAS-MN member, supporter, and reported board member, Magdy Rabeaa. Rabeaa is the former Vice-Principal of TIZA. Rabeaa was also involved with Best Academy and Hennepin Academy and allegedly was a polarizing figure. We do not feel he is fit to lead Summit Academy.

There appears to be a targeted effort to recruit Somali youth for Summit Charter School. Community members allege that Rabeaa has been recruiting Somali students for Summit Charter School from a Somali school in Apple Valley, Muslim businesses on Central Avenue and Cedar Riverside, and in mosques around the Twin Cities.

We strongly believe that Summit Charter School, its administration, and affiliates have the potential to undermine and corrupt our public charter school system, waste taxpayer money and repeat the well-known negative story of the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA). Summit Charter School appears to be a re-emergence of the controversial TIZA charter school.


There is a history of allegations of fraudulent and disturbing behavior by MAS-MN’s Executive Director (the only visible staff person of MAS-MN), Asad Zaman. Zaman also serves on the Board of Trustees of MAS National. He was the Principal of TIZA.

There are allegations against Asad Zaman from community leaders about mishandling their money to taking their land to threatening individuals with deportation to accepting funds that would have allowed the FBI and St. Paul Police Department to spy on the Muslim community and infiltrate youth programs. His former teachers at TIZA allege that he advanced a paycheck for himself before declaring bankruptcy and to this day has not paid some of the teachers their last paychecks.

The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), Asad Zaman, and other school officials were sued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota (ACLU-MN) for misuse of public funds (ACLU v. TIZA lawsuit, The school was shut down at both the Inver Grove Heights and Blaine locations.

TIZA Principal Asad Zaman and Vice-Principal Magdy Rabeaa allegedly had a poor relationship with TIZA parents and many believe that they actively participated in the saga and eventual demise of TIZA.

Despite the large Somali student enrollment, TIZA allegedly lacked Somali leadership at all levels- board, administration, and staff. Some Somali students, parents and leaders who were involved with TIZA and MAS-MN allege unfair treatment.

One Somali mother reported that she went to TIZA after her child was held back a grade level. She said Zaman would not meet with her and refused to answer her pleas, ignoring her as she cried and said: “Please Asad, no, my son.” Another Somali mother reported that her child was placed in special education without her knowledge or permission.

Even our most respected leaders have been harmed by TIZA and MAS-MN. One Imam was a teacher at TIZA and claimed unlawful firing. After he was fired, he was denied unemployment benefits.

Another imam, who runs the largest mosque in St. Paul, was part of TIZA and the Vice-President of MAS-MN. He said he “raised half of the money from the Somali community to buy the MAS-MN building” in Inver Grove Heights but “left after seeing injustices at TIZA and MAS-MN.” He said: “They [Asad Zaman and MAS-MN] did every evil thing against us and the community.” The imam would bring thousands of Somalis to the annual MAS-MN convention; recent convention numbers have reportedly declined to 200-300 attendees. There was a community walk-out and protest, which included the participation of the keynote speaker, at the 2014 MAS-MN Convention.

Another Imam on a visa was teaching Quran at MAS-MN and was allegedly told by Zaman that he should work seven days a week or he would be deported. He alleges he did not get paid what he was promised and was constantly threatened with deportation when he advocated for himself.

As part of the ACLU-MN settlement, Zaman agreed that he would “not serve as an officer, director, or administrator (defined as executive director, principal, assistant principal, headmaster, or program director) of a Minnesota public charter school, and shall not be a leader of an educational studies program at a Minnesota public charter school” (Stipulated Agreement ACLU v. TIZA, et al, 2). That stipulation expired on April 5, 2015.


Charter schools, and the majority Somali youth that attend them, are alleged to be a money making operation for MAS-MN. What financial benefits will MAS-MN receive from a state charter school and its Somali students?

TIZA, funded by state and federal funds, paid approximately $2,938,210 to MAS-MN Holding (Case No. 09-cv-00138, 98). TIZA paid approximately $376,000 to MET/Blaine Holding (Case No. 09-cv-00138, 99). Both are affiliates and creations of MAS-MN.

The ACLU-MN lawsuit found that TIZA provided Asad Zaman with the following:

• A “base salary of at least $75,000 per year; TIZA paid him in excess of $90,000 per year for at least 2007-2009”

• No limitation on “professional meetings, seminars and conferences at the local, state and national levels”

• All “association dues...for such appropriate professional organizations” that Zaman might choose

• Cell phone

• Short term and long term disability insurance

• $250,000 in life insurance, plus taxes paid on the insurance

• 100% of health and dental expenses for him and his family

• Daycare for his family

• 75 days per year (15 full weeks) of paid time off and bereavement leave, plus all holidays recognized by TIZA

• Over $89,000 for an MBA degree from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota

(Case No. 09-cv-00138, 145)

TIZA's teachers were paid an average salary of $32,000. (Case No. 09-cv-00138, 146)

Why would a public charter school pay nearly $100,000 for Asad Zaman to get his Masters in BUSINESS Administration? Does any reasonable employee get 75 paid days, or 15 paid weeks, off per year? Where is the oversight and accountability for taxpayer funds?


The Brennan Center released a document showing how community outreach programs to Muslims blur lines between outreach and intelligence. The article highlighted the African Immigrant Muslim Community Outreach Program (AIMCOP) in Minnesota, a program that targeted Somali youth. AIMCOP was a partnership between the FBI, US Attorney’s Office, MAS-MN and few other groups.

“Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, said that his organization got funding through the [AIMCOP] program to hire a police liaison. They held meetings once or twice a month for two years, usually involving 20 or so community members and a few local cops….He said he was not told about an intelligence component, though he had been asked to keep track of attendees at outreach meetings” (Spies Among Us: How Community Outreach Programs to Muslims Blur Lines between Outreach and Intelligence)

MAS-MN denies turning over contact information but the requirement, and the mixing of outreach and law enforcement, is clearly stated in the grant proposal:

“The SPPD and the RSCO, coordinated by the project manager and in partnership with the FBI and US Attorney's Office, will identify a group of officers/agents who will be trained in Muslim/Somali culture by the MAS advocate and will form a prevention and enforcement team that will first seek to gain the trust of the Somali immigrants....The team will also identify radicalized individuals, gang members, and violent offenders who refuse to cooperate with our efforts. Using established criteria that will stand up to public and legal scrutiny, the team will establish a list that identifies radicalized youth, gang members, and violent offenders. The project manager will coordinate with team members and will require members to submit a contact report.” (AIMCOP Grant Proposal)

Furthermore, MAS-MN has refused to sign the community statement against the new FBI and Department of Justice Countering Violent Extremism Program that stigmatizes and targets only the Somali community. The statement was signed by 50 Minnesota Somali and Muslim groups. (Minnesota Muslims Concerned About New ‘Stigmatizing, Divisive, and Ineffective’ CVE Pilot Program)


There are many allegations against Asad Zaman and MAS-MN, despite the fact that people fear coming forward. Numerous community members have witnessed Asad Zaman threatening and yelling at individuals, especially women. He has called employers and bosses on people to try to silence them. Those who speak out often face intimidation, threats and harassment. In the ACLU lawsuit against TIZA and Asad Zaman, several witnesses discussed this fear:

One TIZA employee said under oath: “I fear this treatment because TIZA officials resorted to intimidation and threats against my coworkers and me for nearly the entire time I worked at the school. For six years, I watched Asad Zaman, Magdy Rabeaa…lash out in order to control those around them, and to retaliate against anyone who spoke poorly of the school, or otherwise challenged their authority….Zaman was extremely upset that I was challenging his authority, told me I should have made the man ‘feel like a king while they massacred his family,’ and suggested that ‘we could just kill you, yeah tell your husband we’ll do his job for him’…..That kind of extreme reaction, along with the generally aggressive behavior I witnessed during my tenure with the school, makes me fear….” (Declaration of J. Edwards).

Another witness and TIZA parent testified before a Senate committee hearing that after he criticized TIZA, Zaman made a statement about him that appeared to be “an attempt to incite violence against me and my family” (Testimony of K. Elmasry).


TIZA, MAS-MN, MAS-MN Holding, and Minnesota Education Trust (MET) reportedly intermingled organizations, staff, board members and funds. (Stipulation of Facts, ACLU v. TIZA et al,

“TIZA and MAS-MN were incorporated on the same day by the same person....TIZA and MAS-MN used the same fax number and phone number, and the same EIN number in a public filing” (Case No. 09-cv-00138, 33).

TIZA, funded by state and federal funds, paid approximately $2,938,210 to MAS-MN Holding (Case No. 09-cv-00138, 98). TIZA paid approximately $376,000 to MET/Blaine Holding (Case No. 09-cv-00138, 99).

"...MAS-MN Holding, TIZA's landlord for the Inver Grove Heights campus, filed an application for tax-exempt status with the IRS, representing that it will be collecting income from its property and will 'turn over the entire amount' to MAS." It leased property to MAS-MN for “only a nominal lease fee.” (Case No. 09-cv-00138, 42)

"MAS-MN Holding was authorized to donate any excess corporate funds to MAS-MN." (Case No. 09-cv-00138, 43)

“MET also purports to be the parent company of MAS-MN Holding." (Case No. 09-cv-00138, 55)

"MET or its subsidiary, Blaine Holding, has been and is TIZA's landlord for the Blaine campus.” (Case No. 09-cv-00138, 55)

We are concerned that Summit Charter School is continuing in TIZA’s path by allegedly being managed and run by the same people who often exchange their roles and responsibilities.

Summit Charter School is run by long-time MAS-MN member, supporter, and alleged board member, Magdy Rabeaa. Rabeaa is the former Vice-Principal of TIZA. His wife, Rihab Shoshan, was a member of the MET Board of Directors (Case No. 09-cv-00138, 56).

Heather Lampe was a board member of Summit Charter School until her abrupt resignation on June 16, 2015 (

Lampe is the wife of Zeeshan Tariq, one of three officers listed on the 2013 Form 990 for MET (

In addition to his role as former Principal of TIZA, Asad Zaman is the longtime Executive Director/President of MAS-MN. He operates the MAS-MN Blaine Community Center, the former site of TIZA’s Blaine campus. He is listed as the contact for MET (

We the undersigned ask the Minnesota Department of Education and Innovative Quality Schools to prevent a repeat of TIZA by immediately investigating alleged conflicts of interest between the above-mentioned individuals and organizations and re-evaluate its authorization of Summit Charter School. We don’t want the highly regarded MDE and IQS to be associated with former TIZA administrators and current MAS-MN players, who are well-known in our community as individuals with an ongoing pattern of controversial, corrupt and antagonistic behavior. We have a second chance to get this right. Our children suffered by TIZA, not only by being put in the national spotlight and getting hate threats, but also government scrutiny that still affects them today. We do not want to see a repeat of that.

We the undersigned ask the Muslim American Society (MAS National) to provide immediate oversight and leadership in Minnesota. We ask that you start a performance evaluation of Asad Zaman, review his compensation package, evaluate his board and board recruitment methods, and launch a thorough, independent investigation into the MAS-MN chapter. We invite MAS National President Mazen Mokhtar to come to the Twin Cities and listen to our community and hear directly from the hundreds of people who have been harmed by Asad Zaman and MAS-MN for many years. You have ignored us, and dismissed the sincere leaders within MAS who have complained about Asad Zaman, for too long. We will no longer tolerate it and we will not be silenced or intimidated. We will seek justice and accountability.

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