The Childers live in the Griswold Community School District and filed an open enrollment application for their children to attend Red Oak Community School District. The Red Oak School District approved the Childers' open enrollment application on January 23, 2006.
The Childers then made a written request asking the Griswold Community School District to allow the Red Oak School District to enter the Griswold School District to pick up and transport their children to school in the Red Oak District. At the local board hearing, Mr. Childers did not raise allegations of harassment or any other instances where the Griswold School District had opened its boundaries for buses from another school district. The board members personally were not aware of any other instance where school district buses entered the Griswold District, so they unanimously voted to deny the request. Mr. Childers filed an appeal with the Loess Hills Area Education Agency, and they also denied his appeal.
Mr. Childers then filed his appeal with the Department of Education. During the hearing, it was disclosed the previous superintendent of Griswold Community School District incorrectly bypassed the school board and authorized the transportation director to pick up students from two families who resided in districts outside of Griswold. Also, the board was not aware that another school district had entered the Griswold School District boundary ten years' earlier to pick up children from a third family. Lastly, Mr. Childers did not raise his harassment claims as justification for his transportation request.
Iowa Code section 282.18(10) states that parents who use open enrollment are to provide transportation to the receiving district for their children. (The two exceptions - economic hardship and agreement between the districts - are not at issue here.)The standard of review of the local board's decision is whether that board abused its discretion. The Griswold Board's decision "cannot be characterized as unreasonable or arbitrary based on the failure to consider information that was never presented to them." Furthermore, the motive underlying the local board's decision to deny transportation (to discourage open enrollment out) is not an arbitrary and capricious motivation. Finally, even if the claims of harassment had been timely raised, there is no statutory exception in the open enrollment law for claims of harassment.
For these reasons, the ALJ found that the July 17, 2006 decision of the Griswold Community School District Board to deny the request to allow the Red Oak Community School District to enter Griswold School District boundaries to pick up an open enrolled student was correct.