A federal judge Tuesday issued an order that neither side intimidate or conceal witnesses in a case involving an Inver Grove Heights charter school and the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.
The ACLU is suing Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, known as TiZA, alleging the public school is blurring the line between religion and public education by promoting Islam.
The charter school filed a motion asking to enter into mediation. TiZA also requested that the ACLU disclose its witnesses in the case.
The ACLU fired back by asking U.S. Magistrate Jeanne Graham to issue a witness-protection order. In court documents, the ACLU alleged the school has intimidated witnesses by "exerting pressure on their family and their community."
As a precautionary move, Graham granted the motion in part but did not issue specific orders for individual witnesses, instead making a blanket ruling.
"Neither party may harass or intimidate witnesses from speaking to the other side and telling truths," she said. "Intimidating other witnesses and threatening people is against the law. We're not going to engage in that."
She also ordered both sides to identify all potential witnesses.
U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank will rule on whether the case will go into mediation, Graham said. The case will move forward until his ruling is made.
Last year, the ACLU sued the charter, its directors, Islamic Relief USA and Minnesota Commissioner of Education Alice Seagren, claiming the school was using taxpayer money to support religion. The school has a student body that is predominantly Muslim.
The charter also has a campus in Blaine.