Iowa's open enrollment law ? Iowa Code section 282.18 ? states that parents of open enrolled children must transport their children "to and from a point on a regular bus route of the receiving district." Another statute ? section 285.9 ? prohibits one district from operating its buses through another district's territory without permission.
Here, a relocation of a federal highway resulted in the oddity that the only way for a bus of the Fairfield District to reach a stop at a residence within the Fairfield District is by travel through a corner of the Cardinal Community School District. Thus, although a number of Cardinal parents were lawfully transporting their own children (open enrolled to Fairfield) to this stop within the Fairfield District, Cardinal withheld permission for Fairfield to operate a bus through its district.
Cardinal also denied permission to Fairfield to travel through Cardinal to pick up its own Fairfield resident student. The GPAEA board granted permission to Fairfield to travel through Cardinal to pick up the Fairfield resident student. The GPAEA board denied permission to Fairfield to pick up open enrolled students at the same stop. The GPAEA Board interprets Iowa Code section 282.18(10) and its requirement for consent of both affected districts as restricting its ability to approve the bus routes for Fairfield to pick up open enrolled students in the absence of consent by Cardinal CSD. Furthermore, GPAEA argues that the bus stop in question is not "a point on a regular school bus route of the receiving district" because regular school bus routes do not require approval by AEA boards. That is, the stop is a bus stop only by special permission of the GPAEA Board.
Using the appropriate standard of review of abuse of discretion, the Director does not need to determine whether the reasoning of the GPAEA Board is correct; only that it is not unreasonable. The plain language of section 282.18(10) supports the reasoning of the GPAEA Board. Therefore, the GPAEA Board took no action that it was prohibited from taking under chapter 285.
The decision of the GPAEA Board to prohibit buses of the Fairfield District from traveling through the Cardinal District to pick up open enrolled students was affirmed. (There was no appeal from the decision of the GPAEA Board allowing Fairfield to travel through Cardinal to pick up the resident Fairfield student.)