The Appellant, S.Z., seeks reversal of an August 17, 2016, decision by the Clear Creek Amana Community School District ("District") Board ("Board") finding that the General Chemistry 1 Course at Kirkwood Community College ("KCC") is comparable to the Chemistry 2 courses offered at the Clear Creek Amana High school ("CCAHS") and thus is not an eligible Postsecondary Enrollment Option course for J.Z.
The Appellant lives in Homestead, Iowa, and a resident of the Clear Creek Amana Community School District. Her son, J.Z., was a ninth grade student attending the Clear Creek Amana High School, during the 2015-2016 school year. He is currently being homeschooled, is dual enrolled with CCAHS, and is in the tenth grade. J.Z. has been identified according to the District's criteria and procedures, as a Gifted and Talented pupil. Because of this designation J.Z. is eligible to attend Kirkwood Community College as a 10th grader to take classes under Postsecondary Enrollment Options Act ("PSEO"). Under PSEO, a school district will provide tuition reimbursements to an eligible postsecondary institution equal to the lessor of the actual and customary costs of tuition, textbooks, materials, and fees directly or two hundred fifty dollars. The Appellant asked that it be placed on the Board's agenda. At the Board meeting on August 17, 2016, the Board heard comments from the Appellant and recommendations from Superintendent Kuehl.
The Board agenda reflects that Superintendent Kuehl "recommend[s] the Board declare the General Chemistry 1 Course at Kirkwood CC equivalent to Chemistry 1/2 at CCAHS." However, the recording of the board meeting reflects that Superintendent Kuehl recommended that "the Board to declare the General Chemistry 1 Course at Kirkwood CC equivalent with our Chemistry 2 course at the high school."The Board moved to approve the recommendation. The minutes of the Board meeting reflect "Board declares the General Chemistry 1 course at Kirkwood CC equivalent to Chemistry 1 & 2 at CCA." Mr. Kuehl provided clarifying testimony that the Board moved to accept his recommendation and the Board unanimously approved the recommendation. On August 17, 2016, the Appellant filed a timely appeal with the Department.
The Appellant argues that the District did not due their due diligence in comparing the courses and that you cannot compare one course to two courses. The Appellee argues that it did compare the courses and their decision finding the courses comparable was reasonable. The question in this appeal is whether or not the local board's decision finding that the General Chemistry 1 Course at Kirkwood is comparable to the Chemistry 2 course offered at the CCAHS and thus is not an eligible Post-Secondary Enrollment Option course is reasonable and complies with the Postsecondary Enrollment Options laws under the facts and circumstances in this case.The law and the rules clearly contemplate a one-to-one course comparison and not a two-to-one course comparison. Since, the record is not clear what the District compared and what the decision of the Board was, we must find their decision is an erroneous application of the law and thus, not reasonable and overturn the decision. It is not the State Board's duty to analyze and compare these courses in the first instance on a one-to-one basis. Thus, the comparison and final decision must be made by the District.
This comparison must be made by comparing course content as described in 281 --- IAC 22.18. A District cannot pay for a course at a community college that has substantially the same concepts and skills offered to students in the District's own high school course; to do so would be supplanting.
For the foregoing reasons, the decision of the Board made on August 15, 2016, finding that the General Chemistry 1 course at Kirkwood is comparable to the Chemistry 2 offered at the Clear Creek Amana High school and thus is not an eligible Post-Secondary Enrollment Option course is REVERSED AND REMANDED. The District shall consider the definitions in the statute and the rules, and make a one-to-one course comparison of each of its courses.