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Decision Number
Open Enrollment of L.T.
Des Moines Independent CSD
Full Text

The Appellant, G.T, seeks reversal of a November 7, 2017 decision by the Des Moines Independent Community School District ("District") Board ("Board") denying a late filed open enrollment request on behalf of her minor child L.T. An in-person evidentiary hearing was held in this matter on January 5, 2018, before designated administrative law judge, Nicole M. Proesch, J.D., pursuant to agency rules found at 281 Iowa Administrative Code chapter 6. The Appellant was self-represented and present with L.T. and her husband J.T. Also present was Ralph Hernandez, L.T.'s uncle. Eleanor Shirley ("Ms. Shirley"), who is the Enrollment Supervisor, appeared on behalf of the District, which was represented by attorney Miriam Van Heukelem.The Appellant, her husband, and her minor daughter, L.T., are residents of the Des Moines Independent Community School District. L.T. has attended school in the District since preschool. L.T. is fourteen years old and a freshman at Roosevelt High School ("RHS"). Prior to the 2017-2018 school year, she attended Merrill Middle School (Merrill"). L.T. testified that during the summer of 2017, before beginning her freshman year, she began dating another student at Merrill. L.T. was intimate with the other student, who unbeknownst to L.T., recorded the encounter. After the school year began, L.T. and the other student stopped dating and were not getting along. L.T. and the other student spoke with the school's behavioral coach, Emily Burroughs ("Mrs. Burroughs") on at least one occasion regarding their disagreements and were told to stay away from each other.

During October of 2017, L.T. learned that the other student had been showing her classmates a video of their intimate encounter on his cell phone. Students began harassing L.T. about the video and calling her vulgar names. As a result, L.T. found it difficult to be at school and sit in class because of the harassment. L.T. was suffering from anxiety over the situation. Shortly after learning of the video, L.T. shared this with her parents. The Appellant contacted the High School Principal, Kevin Biggs, and Tasha Brown, who is the ninth grade Administrator at RHS, regarding the video and the harassment. The Appellant testified that she was given the option of having the other student expelled; however, she did not want to do that. Instead, the other student received a short suspension from athletic competition and then returned to the team after a month. Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Burroughs referred L.T. to a crisis counselor to help her handle the situation and arrangements were made for L.T. to go to the office if she felt uncomfortable in class. L.T.'s attendance in class and at school decreased.L.T. did testify that she and this student have since come to an agreement not to share details of their relationship with others and that things have gotten better since the fall. She has not encountered any other instances of harassment since November.

Eleanor Shirley, who is the Enrollment Supervisor, testified that she received the open enrollment application and contacted Principal Biggs to get more information about L.T. Principal Biggs was aware of the video and the situation.The Appellant was offered the option of L.T. attending one of the other four high schools in the district ? Lincoln, North, East, or Hoover. They declined the offer because they would like L.T. to attend UCSD with her aunt.

On November 7, 2017, the Board reviewed the Appellant's application for open enrollment. The application was denied because the Board concluded that the District could accommodate L.T. at another high school in the District.

A decision by the board denying a late-filed open enrollment application that is based on "repeated acts of harassment that the resident district could not adequately address" is subject to appeal to the State Board under Code section 290.1. Id. ? 282.18(5). The State Board understands that the Appellant wants to do what is best for L.T., who was the victim of a harassment at Roosevelt. We do not fault them for their desire to enroll her at UHS. Nor, does the outcome of this appeal limit their ability to transfer L.T. to UHS. L.T. may still attend UHS by paying tuition, or she may attend another school in the District at no cost. The Appellant is not without options, they are just not the options she would prefer.

For the foregoing reasons, the decision of the Board made on November 7, 2017, denying the open enrollment request filed on behalf of L.T., is AFFIRMED.