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Federal judge leaves most of ACLU's suit against Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy intact

  • July 22, 2009 - 12:53 AM

A judge ruled Tuesday that he will not dismiss a lawsuit alleging that Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TiZA) illegally promotes religion, but he has thrown out claims brought against the Minnesota Department of Education in the same dispute.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota sued the Inver Grove Heights charter school in January, claiming that the public school is endorsing Islam in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

In a written statement on Tuesday, TiZA attorney Erick Kaardal pointed out that the judge dismissed one of three claims brought by the ACLU against the K-8 school, where most students are Somali. He said school officials remain confident that TiZA is not promoting religion in violation of the First Amendment.

The ACLU also named the Education Department and its commissioner, Alice Seagren, as defendants, arguing that the state failed to stop the alleged violations.

In an opinion issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank rejected many of the school's arguments for dismissing the case, but dismissed all claims against the Education Department and two of three against Seagren.

The Education Department had argued that the Constitution protects the state from being sued in federal court, and the ACLU conceded the point in this case, said ACLU legal counsel Teresa Nelson.

SARAH LEMAGIE

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