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Decision Number
Crysta Fournier
Pam McCalla
Cedar Rapids Community School District
Full Text

Appellant pulled her daughter out of the high school and applied for immediate open enrollment out of the District. This action was taken because of a racial incident that had occurred earlier in January between Crysta, who is white, and another Kennedy student, who is a black female. Nelson Evans, testifying on behalf of the District, stated that the "incident" had been handled appropriately. He main-tained that there were a lot of issues between the two girls to be settled and that several people had been involved in trying to resolve this matter. Appellant, however, strongly disagreed and remained unsatisfied. As a result, she has refused to send her daughter back to the Cedar Rapids' schools. She seeks an immedi-ate open enrollment approval to attend Alburnett, but her request was denied by the Board at its January 22, 1996, meeting as being late without good cause.

The "dispute" or "incident" giving rise to Appellant's desire to open enroll out of the District was described by her as "racial harassment." However, it was difficult for the hearing panel to elicit the particular facts underlying that characterization. Apparently, a female black student "called Crysta a racist in front of administration." According to Appellant, Dr. Reed, the high school principal, attempted to resolve the prob-lem by speaking with both girls together. This accomplished nothing, according to Appellant, because the girl and several of her friends continued to call Crysta "Casper" and otherwise taunt her in the hallways at school. The administration spoke to both girls again. Finally, according to Appellant, "the administra-tion's solution to this problem ended up being to pull Crysta from the classes both girls attended. Appellant was dissatisfied that her daughter was being "punished" when it was the other girl who presented the problem; and the "threats" were then transferred to Crysta's home. Appellant testified that the student left "threatening" messages on Crysta's home answering machine. She was not specific about the nature of the threats.

The present case is very troubling, not only because of the racial tensions between the students, but because of the damaged relationship between the parent and the district administration. The immediate problem is not Appellant's failure to obtain "in-stant open enrollment out of Cedar Rapids," but her failure to send her daughter to school and the apparent inability of the District to persuade the mother to obtain satisfactory alterna-tive education. Unfortunately, this is not a problem that can be remedied by the application of State Board precedent.

Troubling as this decision is, we are simply of a belief that the stated reasons do not meet the "good cause" definition nor do they constitute a "similar set of circumstances consis-tent with the definition of good cause." Finally, we fail to recog-nize that the situation is one that "cries out" for the extraor-dinary exercise of power bestowed upon the State Board; this is not a case of such unique proportions that justice and fairness require the State Board to overlook the reglar statutory procedures.

That the decision of the Cedar Rapids Community School District's Board of Directors made on January 22, 1996, denying open enrollment application for Crysta Fournier was affirmed.