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Decision Number
"Guest" Board Policy
Duane & Mary Dornath
Fort Dodge Community School District
Full Text

Appellants are the parents of a 17-year-old senior at Fort Dodge High School. Their daughter, Ashley, signed a document verifying that she had received a copy of the student handbook and that she was aware of the rules contained within. One of the rules -- the "guest policy" -- stated the school-sponsored dances "are open to high school students with a current activity ticket or Fort Dodge Senior High graduates within the last two years."

Ashley wanted to attend the upcoming prom with her boyfriend, a young man who had graduated in 2004 from Manson Northwest Webster High School. Under the District's guest policy, he could not attend. This policy was the result of a recommendation from the Dodger Senate (student governing body)and had been in force since the 2001-2002 school year, when Ashley was a freshman.

This appeal is governed by Iowa Code section 279.8. Appellants argued that the local board abused its discretion, violated Ashley's rights to equal protection under the law, and applied the policy arbitrarily. Neither the State Board nor any court may substitute its judgement for that of the local board, absent showing that the decision was "unreasonable and lacked rationality." Appellants agreed that the policy was not directed at any protected class of person, not did it impact any fundamental right.

The stated desire to keep the basic character of a school dance as a dance for secondary students is a rational basis for the guest policy. The closeness of the vote of the local board indicates that reasonable minds may disagree as to the means by which to attain the desired goal. In absence of any abuse of discretion, the State Board must respect the decision of the local board.

That the decision of the Board of Directors of the Fort Dodge Community School District made on November 12, 2004, was affirmed