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Decision Number
Discretionary Busing/Transportation
Iowa City CSD
David and Heather Bright
Full Text

ICCSD seeks reversal of the decision of the Board of Directors of the Grant Wood Area Education Agency ("GWAEA Board") made on June 27, 2016, reversing the April 12, 2016, decision of the ICCSD Board of Directors ("ICCSD Board"), which denied discretionary busing to the Appellee's children.

David and Heather Bright are the parents of three children that attend school in the ICCSD. The Bright's home is located in Iowa City, Iowa, on Linder Road, north of interstate 80, east of Dubuque Street, and west of Prairie Du Chien Road. Their residence is near the Shimek Elementary School ("Shimek"), which is the designated attendance center for their two younger children. Their residence is 1.64 miles from Shimek. Two of the Bright's children received discretionary busing in the 2015-2016 school year. On January 26, 2016, the ICCSD Board voted to remove discretionary busing for over 657 families in the district, including the appellees' children.

On February 4, 2016, the Bright family, along with the other families in the ICCSD, received a letter from the ICCSD stating that the ICCSD Board decided on January 26, 2016, to remove discretionary busing services for their children for the 2016-2017 school year. The letter included the right to appeal the decision of the Board to ICCSD administrators by notifying Ms. Davis within 10 business days of receiving the letter. On February 17, 2016, the Brights appealed this decision to the ICCSD Board by email.

At the appeal hearing before the Department, the Appellant argued that the ICCSD Board did not abuse its discretion when it denied discretionary transportation to the Brights. The Appellant also argued that there was a conflict of interest on the GWAEA Board because the decision of the GWAEA Board was written by an attorney who works in the same law firm as the Appellee in this matter, David J. Bright, and that this has created an impermissible conflict of interest that was not disclosed to the Appellant.

The Iowa Supreme Court has stated that the standard of review for these appeals is abuse of discretion. "[W]here a statute provides for a review of a school district's discretionary action, the review, by necessary implication, is limited to determining whether the school district abused its discretion." Sioux City Cmy. Sch. Dist. v. Iowa Dep't of Educ., 659 N.W.2d 563, 568 (Iowa 2003). The abuse of discretion standard requires the GWAEA Board and the Department to look only at whether a reasonable person could have found sufficient evidence to come to the same conclusion as the school district. Id. at 569; see also Iowa Code ? 17A.19(10)(f)(1).The Appellants have asserted a conflict of interest against the GWAEA Board on the basis that the attorney, James Peters, who represented the GWAEA Board at the hearing and wrote the decision is an attorney in the same law firm as Mr. Bright. Neither Mr. Peters nor Mr. Bright disclosed this to the ICCSD. Here, since we have already reversed the decision of the GWAEA Board on the merits and the Appellant has the complete relief it seeks, it is not necessary to make findings or conclusions about this issue.

For the foregoing reasons, the decision of the Board of Directors of the Grant Wood Area Education Agency made on May 11, 2016, is AFFIRMED as to the finding that the Appellees are not entitled to mandatory busing and REVERSED in part as to the finding that the district abused its discretion and the decision of the Board of Directors of the Iowa City Community School District made on April 12, 2016, to deny discretionary busing to the Brights is AFFIRMED.