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Decision Number
Open Enrollment of Kali B.
Missy B.
Missouri Valley CSD
Full Text

Missy B. ("Ms. B."), sought reversal of an August 19, 2013 decision by the Missouri Valley Community School District Board of Directors ("MV Board") denying a late filed open enrollment request on behalf of her minor daughter, Kali. The sole issue presented in this case is whether the MV Board erred by denying the late filed application for Kali to open enroll out of the district.Under Iowa Code section 282.18, the statutory filing deadline for an application for open enrollment for the upcoming school year is March 1. The law provides that an open enrollment application filed after the statutory deadline, which is not based on statutorily defined "good cause," must be approved by the boards of directors of both the resident district and the receiving district. Iowa Code ? 282.18(5) (2011). Open enrollment may be granted at any time with approval of both the resident and receiving school districts. Iowa Code ? 282.18(14). The State Board applies four established criteria when reviewing an open enrollment decision involving a claim of repeated acts of harassment. All four established criteria must be met for this Board to reverse a local decision and grant such a request.

The evidence presented at the hearing did not include any direct threats to Kali's personal safety or property. In fact, some of the behavior was not even directed towards Kali. Nor, did the evidence show an effect on Kali's mental or physical health, academic performance, or her ability to benefit from services, activities, or privileges provided by the school. While inappropriate, the behavior alleged did not rise to the level of pervasive harassment that the legislature and this board remedy by allowing late-filed open enrollment applications.

By not notifying the district of further incidents, Ms. B. did not provide the district with an opportunity to resolve the situation. Without this opportunity, it cannot be said that the harassment is likely to continue despite the efforts of school officials under the third criterion. Open enrollment appeals of this type are not about a family's right to transfer their children to other school districts. A transfer may be made even though open enrollment is denied. The approval, or denial, of open enrollment does affect payment for the student's education. When a student transfers to a nonresident school district under open enrollment, the district of residence must pay for the student to attend the receiving district. When a student transfers to a nonresident school district outside of the open enrollment process, the nonresident district must charge the student tuition.

Parents are free to make the decisions they deem to be best for their children. We do not fault Kali or her mother for her decision to enroll Kali in TC and the outcome of this appeal does not limit Kali's ability to attend TC.

Our review focus is not upon the family's decision, but on the local school board decision. The issue for review here, as in all other appeals brought to us under Iowa Code section 282.18(5), is limited to whether the local school board made error of law in denying the late-filed open enrollment request. We have concluded that the MV Board correctly applied Iowa Code section 282.18(5) when it denied the late open enrollment application filed on behalf of Kali. Therefore, we must uphold the local board decision.

The decision of the Board of Directors of the Missouri Valley Community School District made on August 19, 2013, denying the open enrollment request filed on behalf of Kali B., is AFFIRMED.