The Appellant, Lisa D., seeks reversal of an October 21, 2013 decision by the Andrew Community School District Board of Directors ("ACSD Board") denying a late filed open enrollment request on behalf of her minor daughter, T.D. The sole issue presented in this case is whether the ACSD Board erred by denying the late-filed application for T.D. to open enroll out of the district.The State Board applies established criteria when reviewing an open enrollment decision involving a claim of repeated acts of harassment. All of the criteria must be met for the State Board to reverse a local decision and grant such a request.
The crux of this criterion is determining whether putting the student in a different environment will make a difference. There is no evidence that T.D. did anything to provoke the pervasive harassment that she experienced. Under the facts here, it is likely that if T.D. stayed at Maquoketa High School (MHS) the harassment would continue. Therefore, it is logical to think that changing T.D.'s district would alleviate the situation and as Lisa testified, it did alleviate the situation. However, changing school districts is not the only option available that would alleviate the situation. This case involves a resident district with multiple attendance centers due to a whole grade sharing agreement. In cases involving multiple attendance centers, the State Board also looks at whether an intradistrict transfer would alleviate the harassment.
ACSD offered to transfer T.D. to Bellevue High School (BHS) to help alleviate the situation. However, Lisa and T.D. gave little thought to transferring T.D. to BHS because they had already decided that T.D. wanted to attend Central High School in DeWitt, Iowa (CHS). Lisa testified that Student A had two cousins attending BHS, and she was concerned the harassment would continue. She offered no credible evidence that the cousins were involved in any harassment of T.D. Nor did she offer any evidence that other BHS students were involved in the harassment of T.D. Lisa's concerns?while valid?are mere speculation and the State Board gives little weight to them.
ACSD Superintendant Crozier testified that he and the ACSD Board believed that BHS could provide a change of scenery and a safe learning environment for T.D. Furthermore, he testified that if T.D. transferred and continued to have issues, he was open to approving an open enrollment request for T.D. to enroll to Central Community School District (CCSD) While enrolling T.D. at BHS is not Lisa's preferred outcome, this option could alleviate the situation for T.D. and get T.D. away from her harassers. When a district has another attendance center, the district should be given a fair opportunity to continue to serve that student at the other attendance center. To find otherwise based on the record before the State Board would go against prior State Board precedent.
This case is not about limiting parental choice. The State Board understands that Lisa wants what is best for T.D., who has been the victim of pervasive harassment. The State Board does not fault T.D. or Lisa for their decision to enroll T.D. at CHS. Nor does the outcome of this decision limit T.D.'s ability to transfer to another district or remain at CHS. Our review focus is not upon the family's choice, but upon the local school board's decision under statutory requirements. 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 erred as a matter of law in denying the late-filed open enrollment request.
We have concluded that the ACSD Board correctly applied Iowa Code sections 282.18(5) and 280.28(2)(b) when it denied the late open enrollment application filed by Lisa on behalf of T.D. The decision of the Board of Directors of the Andrew Community School District made on October 21, 2013, denying the open enrollment request filed by Lisa on behalf of T.D. is AFFIRMED.