Four parents of students at a metro-area charter school accused of promoting Islam may not intervene in a lawsuit brought against the school by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
The federal court's decision upheld a ruling in U.S. District Court on a motion made by several parents at Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TiZA), which has campuses in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine.
But the ruling and the ACLU's case are overshadowed by TiZA's near-certain closing for lack of legally required oversight. On Friday, TiZA ceased to exist as a public school in the eyes of the state, though the school has responded by filing for bankruptcy and may take other steps to challenge the Minnesota Deparment of Education.
"The whole situation is so sad," said one parent, Abdu Tuku.
Among other claims, the ACLU's suit has pointed to the school's handling of student prayer and ties with religious groups, arguing that it violated the First Amendment. But the parents argued that their children's right to the free exercise of religion, also assured in the First Amendment, would be violated if TiZA were forced to discontinue the practices challenged by the ACLU.
U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ruled last year that the parents did not have standing to join the suit, and said their motion came too late.
In affirming his decision, the appeals courts ruled that the parents do have standing, but that Frank was free to conclude that they did not join the suit in time.