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Decision Number
David George Gobberdiel
Linda Gobberdiel
West Des Moines Community School District
Full Text

At the time this appeal arose, the deadline for open enrollment was October 30 of the year preceding the year for which open enrollment is sought. After the open enrollment deadline, Ms. Gobberdiel learned that for the 1996-97 school year, Des Moines would have a Montessori program up through the third grade. This program was being relocated to Cowles Elementary and she learned that there were plans to eventually expand the program through the sixth grade. On March 15, 1996, she visited the Montessori program which was located at Hillis Elementary School in Des Moines. The program was not offered for elementary-aged children during the 1993-94 school year. It was established for first and second graders during the summer of 1995 and was expanded for first, second, and third graders for the 1996-97 school year. On March 27, 1996, Appellant called Mr. Houser, the associate superintendent of the West Des Moines District. She sought open enrollment information and learned at that time her application would probably be denied because the October 30th deadline for the 1996-97 school year had passed. Nevertheless, she submitted her application on April 3, 1996. It was denied by the West Des Moines Board on April 8, 1996, for being "late without statutory good cause."

At the appeal hearing, Ms. Gobberdiel stated that she un-derstood her situation did not specifically constitute "good cause" as set forth in the Iowa Code. However, she recited the State Board's broad discretion "to achieve just and equitable results which are in the best interests of the affected child," which is provided by Iowa Code section 282.18(20)(1995). In addition, Ms. Gobberdiel testified that she understood that the intent of the Open Enrollment statute is "to maximize parental choice and access to educational opportunities which are not available to children because of where they live."

Appellant knows that she filed after the deadline, but feels that she meets the "good cause" requirements to enroll. "Good cause," however, is defined by statute. The Legislature chose to define the term "good cause," rather than leaving it up to parents or school boards to determine. Although this may sound unfair to the parents, it was the Legislature's determination that all parents be treated equally in all school districts throughout the state. Therefore, the statutory definition of "good cause" addresses two types of situations that must occur before the filing deadline is: 1) A change in the child's residence; or 2) A change in the status of the resident school district.

The "statutory excuses" set forth above have been found in-appli-cable to the present case. We agree with the District in con-cluding that statutory "good cause" does not exist. As to the merits of this case, we see no error in the deci-sion of the West Des Moines Board since the District's applica-tion of its policy was consistent with State Law. The fact that the Legislature extended the deadlines for Open Enrollment until January 1 after the Gobberdiels had missed the deadline which was applicable to them, does not change the results in this case.

That the decision of the Board of Directors of the West Des Moines Community School District made on April 8, 1996, denying Appellant's untimely open enrollment request for her son, David George Gobberdiel, to the Des Moines Independent Community School District for the 1996-97 school year was affirmed.