A group of students may not join as parties in a legal battle between their metro-area charter school and the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, a federal judge said Friday.
Ten Muslim students at Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TiZA) and four of their parents had sought to intervene in the lawsuit, saying they wanted to protect their rights.
The ACLU, which filed the case last year, claims that the school promotes Islam, crossing a constitutional line between religion and public education. But the students argued that the ACLU is seeking to eliminate "democratically and legally obtained" religious accommodations, such as the time and space to pray at school.
In an opinion and order issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank denied the families' bid to join the case. The alleged injury described by the students is "too remote and speculative," he wrote. Even if their rights to religious freedom were violated in the future, the students failed to show that it would be the ACLU's doing rather than TiZA's, he continued.
The families also failed to show that the school and the state education commissioner are not adequately representing their interests in the case, he wrote.
The judge also pointed out that they tried to join more than a year after the suit was first filed, and after the deadline to add parties.
Frank wrote that he will allow the students to file a "friend of the court" brief.
TiZA has about 500 K-8 students at campuses in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine.