A court ruled Tuesday that the Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-MN) can sue Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), Islamic Relief and state education commissioner Alice Seagren for constitutional violations after allegedly using taxpayer money to illegally promote religion.
Lawyers for TIZA, Islamic Relief, and the education commissioner argued that ACLU-MN did not have the standing to sue, but U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank sided with ACLU-MN.
"[T]he challenged funding here is to a single charter school which, by the admission of Defendants, is attended by choice largely by Somali students who practice the Islamic Religion," read the order on the motion to dismiss (pdf). "It seems unlikely that a parent or student of TIZA, who presumably attends the school because of its particularized program, would challenge the program of choice."
The judge said that because ACLU-MN members are taxpayers, they have a stake in what happens to the funds given to TIZA.
"We are grateful that the judge held that we have standing in this case," Chuck Samuelson, executive director of ACLU-MN, said Tuesday in a statement (pdf). "We believe that it is important to ensure that taxpayer funds are used appropriately. TIZA has received millions of dollars of taxpayer funds and we have the right to question how these public funds are being used."