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Decision Number
Evan Wiseman
James W. & Merry C. Wiseman
Burlington Independent Community School District
Full Text

Appellant seeks reversal of a decision of the Board of Direc-tors of the District made on June 3, 1996, denying her son's amended request for open enrollment. The Board denied the request because the current open enrollment rules, 281--IAC 17 do not provide guidance for the grant or denial of an amended open enrollment application when the initial application, which was granted by the sending district, is denied by the receiving district for insufficient classroom space. On November 20, 1995, the open enrollment request filed by Appellants was approved by the Board of Directors of the Burlington Independent Community School District because it was timely-filed. Appellants that the application for their child to enroll into West Burlington was denied due to insufficient classroom space.

If the district of residence has already given permission for the student to open enroll out but the receiving district is full, why can't the parents choose an alternative receiving district? Because the Department's rules implementing the Open Enrollment Law (282.18) do not address this situation, both the District Board and the parents have appealed in order to seek guidance from the State Board. Although the General Assembly used the term "application," there is no statutory ability for a resident district to deny a timely-filed application for open enrollment unless the departure of the student would negatively impact a bona fide desegregation plan. In re Luke Dorschner, et al., 7 D.o.E. App. Dec. 325, 327 n.1 (1990).

Given the expressed legislative intent that the Open Enrollment Law be "construed broadly, to maximize parental choice," and that in deciding open enrollment appeals "the State Board shall exercise broad discretion to achieve just and equitable results which are in the best interest of the affected child," Evan Wiseman should be allowed to open enroll to the Mediapolis Community School District. Although there is no Department of Education rule in 281--Iowa Administrative Code chapter 17, which provides for the filing of an amended open enrollment application, the procedure may be recognized by local district policy. This is not to say that a local district has an obligation to accept "amended" applications, it is simply a reminder that they always have the option to do so.

For the foregoing reasons, it is recommended that the State Board exercise its subsection 20 power to allow Evan Wiseman to open enroll to the Mediapolis Community School District in spite of the "general limitations contained in this section" regarding the open enrollment time lines.

That the decision of the Burlington Independent Community School District's Board of Directors made on June 3, 1996, denying Appellants' amended application was reversed.