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Decision Number
Open Enrollment of J.W. & E.W.
Des Moines Independent Community School District
Full Text

The Iowa Legislature has given the State Board wide latitude in reviewing appeals under Iowa Code section 290.1 to make decisions that are "just and equitable." Iowa Code ? 290.3 (2013). The standard of review in these cases requires that the State Board affirm the decision of the local board unless the local board decision is "unreasonable and contrary to the best interest of education." In re Jesse Bachman, 13 D.o.E. App. Dec. 363 (1996).

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). The State Board applies established criteria when reviewing an open enrollment decision involving a claim of repeated acts of harassment. All criteria must be met for this Board to reverse a local decision and grant such a request.

The State Board has granted relief under Iowa Code section 282.18(5) in cases of harassment in only three other cases. In each case, the facts established that the experienced harassment involved serious physical assaults, degradation, and destruction of property of those students.

This case is not about limiting parental choice. The State Board understands that L.W. wants what is best for both J.W. and E.W. The State Board does not fault L.W. for her desire to enroll her children into Carlisle. Nor does the outcome of this decision limit her ability to transfer them there

However, 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 DICSD Board correctly applied Iowa Code sections 282.18(5) and 280.28(2)(b) when it denied the late open enrollment application filed by L.W. Therefore, we must uphold the local board decision.

The decision of Des Moines Independent Community School District Board made on July 7, 2015, denying the open enrollment request for J.W. and E.W. is hereby AFFIRMED.