On February 19, 2012, the Clay Central-Everly Community School District ["CCE"] filed a petition with the Department requesting conference realignment for the 2014-2015 school year. On May 8, 2013, the mediation team met by itself, and unanimously issued a recommendation to the Iowa Department of Education that CCE be assigned to the War Eagle Conference ["WEC"] beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
Absent proof that that the mediation team failed to consider one or more of the factors in the rules (Iowa Administrative Code rule 281?37.4) and absent proof that the mediation team was biased, prejudiced, or predisposed, the Department is to implement the mediation team's recommendation. CCE did not argue that the mediation team failed to mediate in good faith, diligently, and in accordance with the rules.
While CCE disagreed with the recommendation to begin reassignment into the WEC for the 2015-2016 school year, CCE acknowledged that the Chapter 37 process was carried out with fidelity and the mediation team did a good job. Additionally, if the decision requires conference realignment, the date of this change shall be made with deference given to existing contracts and commitments. Iowa Admin. Code r. 281?37.7 (2013).
The Department has carefully considered the information gathered by the mediation team and its recommendation, as well as the testimony and evidence given at the hearing of June 17, 2013. The Department affirms and adopts the May 8, 2013, recommendation of the mediation team. The CCE shall be admitted into the membership of the WEC effective no later than the start of the 2015-2016 school year. The Department's decision gives CCE membership into an appropriate conference and is the least disruptive to the other affected schools in the WEC. This decision is effective with the 2015-2016 school year. All schools are reminded of rule 37.7's four year "stay put" provision. That is, absent consensual decision of a conference, conference realignments are binding on CCE and on all members of the conferences listed for a four-year period, through the end of the 2018-2019 school year.