Group opposing abortion withdraws lawsuit against St. Michael-Albertville schoolsby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A student group that opposes legalized abortion has withdrawn a lawsuit against the St. Michael-Albertville school district.
The All Life Is Valuable Club, represented by a national conservative Christian organization, had accused the district of denying the group official status.
According to the lawsuit attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund filed in federal court in April, officials at St. Michael-Albertville High School had told club members the group "does not support the student body as a whole."
The Alliance Defense Fund, a group of Christian attorneys, accused the school district of denying the club equal treatment and access.
On Friday, Alliance Defense Fund attorneys announced they were withdrawing the lawsuit after the school agreed to recognize the club. According to a court filing, the school district agreed to pay plaintiffs' attorney fees.
Jim Behle, assistant superintendent for the St. Michael-Albertville Schools, said the dispute was a misunderstanding over when the group was allowed to meet.
"The group felt we were not enforcing our equal access policy fairly. Had we known that, we certainly could have met with them prior to any lawsuit being filed," he said, adding that school officials never intended to take away anyone's rights. "We didn't know there was even an issue until the lawsuit was filed."
But David Cortman, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, said school officials met with his client several times before and after the lawsuit was filed. He said during those meetings the club was denied official status, which would allow it to make school announcements among other privileges.
"When officially recognized clubs include the Diversity Club, the Anime Club and the Environmental Club — but not the ALIV Club, that is pure and simple discrimination," he said in a written statement.
Behle said the dispute was resolved "amicably" and the club has been meeting after school for about a month. He said the school district hasn't yet been billed for legal fees and doesn't know how much the legal dispute will end up costing the district.