The fate of a Twin Cities charter school mired in legal battles is still uncertain after the Minnesota Department of Education denied a request Friday from the organization that aims to be the school's new overseer.
Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy (TiZA) has until June 30 to find a new authorizer -- an overseer required by state law -- or possibly face closure.
In a letter to Novation Education Opportunities, the nonprofit that applied to be TiZA's new authorizer, the state said Novation did not comply with the application process and cited concerns about conflicts of interest in justifying the denial.
The letter also questioned Novation's ability to provide adequate oversight, noting that plans it provided are not specific enough.
"It's pretty clear that this is about the authorizer's capacity and ability as much as it is, actually more than it is, about the school itself," Department of Education spokeswoman Charlene Briner said.
Mark Azman, a lawyer for TiZA, said school officials would spend the weekend reviewing the letter before deciding what to do next.
"If the school wants to continue, we have to resubmit with additional information," Azman said. "That clearly is one of the primary things the school is looking to do."
TiZA, with campuses in Blaine and Inver Grove Heights, serves about 540 students, many of them from Somalia and other Muslim countries.
The school's current overseer, Islamic Relief USA, will no longer be eligible for that role because of a new prohibition of out-of-state authorizers. Islamic Relief is based in Virginia.
TiZA is locked in a court battle with the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, which claims the school is illegally promoting Islam.