At issue in this matter is the requirement in rule 12.1(7) that "[t]he board and authorities in charge of an accredited nonpublic school shall notify the department annually of their decision to have a calendar based on days or based on hours."
In 2013, the Iowa Legislature amended section of Iowa Code chapter 256.7(19),creating new flexibility for school districts and accredited non-public schools when determining their school calendar Effective July 1, 2014, school districts and accredited nonpublic schools have the option to choose between 180 days or 1,080 hours of instruction. School boards and authorities in charge of an accredited nonpublic school are authorized to determine the days or hours of their school calendars; however, public schools must hold a public hearing prior to adoption. Schools and school districts are required to report this decision annually to the department.
Des Moines desires to resubmit its annual notification to the department of their decision to have a calendar based on days or based on hours. Des Moines initially submitted to the Department that it would operate a calendar based on days for the2014-2015 school year. However, the Des Moines school board approved a schoolcalendar to operate based on hours for the 2014-2015 school year at its October 7, 2014, school board meeting.
When a petition for waiver is filed, the undersigned must conclude that all five criteria listed in rule 4.4 are satisfied before granting a waiver.
Granting this waiver would not have a "negative impact on the student achievement of any person." To the contrary, the ability of Des Moines to operate a calendar on hours instead of days will enhance the ability of the district to have flexibility in their calendar when issues of inclement weather or an emergency arise. The undersigned is satisfied that the intent of the requirement of annual reporting is not harmed by granting a waiver herein.
The petition for waiver is GRANTED.