Category Archives: IowaSupCt

Iowa Supreme Court on Consolidation

The Iowa Supreme Court recently decided Northeast Community School District v. Easton Valley Community School District.

This case involved the question of whether, as a matter of law, a predecessor district could contractually bind a successor, reorganized district. In this case, the contract in question was a whole grade sharing agreement between Northeast and East Central, which subsequently reorganized with Preston to become the Easton Valley Community School District.

The district court entered summary judgment for Easton, finding as a matter of law that the whole grade sharing agreement with East Central did not bind Easton Valley. The Iowa Supreme Court found the district court erred by finding as a matter of law Easton was not bound by the whole grade sharing agreement, reversed, and remanded the case for further proceedings.

This case may not be of particular interest locally, but will matter to smaller districts as they plan for reorganization.

Iowa Supreme Court on Harassment

The Iowa Supreme Court recently decided a juvenile delinquency case, In the Interest of D.S., involving comments made by one student to another as they were getting off a school bus. The Iowa Supreme Court reversed the juvenile court, finding that there was insufficient evidence to support the finding that the juvenile committed harassment, without addressing the juvenile’s First Amendment claims.

Eugene Volokh discusses the case at the Washington Post (HT: @RyanGKoopmans) and offers a link to his law review article on the First Amendment and “harassment” statutes, which may be  of interest if the Iowa Legislature takes up anti-bullying legislation again in the upcoming session.

Iowa Supreme Court on Education

Iowa Supreme Court decided King et al. v. State of Iowa on April 20, 2012.  The 4-3 decision yielded a majority opinion, two concurring opinions, and two dissenting opinions, totaling 163 pages.

The plaintiffs in this case essentially alleged that the State of Iowa, the Governor of Iowa, the Iowa Department of Education, and the Director of the Iowa Department of Education had failed to exercise sufficient centralized control over public education.  See pages 4-9 of the opinion for a statement of the facts and procedural background.  A taste from pages 8-9:

It also requests an order of mandamus or permanent injunction directing the defendants to (1) undertake all suitable means to provide an effective education; (2) develop educational content and performance standards for all Iowa school districts which detail required course offerings, instructor capabilities, and testing requirements, among other things; (3) improve or develop state assessments; (4) develop and enforce professional development programs; (5) implement a career ladder to enhance recruitment and retention of quality teachers; (6) enforce the standards by identifying and enforcing consequences for failure to follow and implement such standards; (7) “develop educational management and governance arrangements to mitigate all procedural and structural impediments to an effective education”; and (8) “[c]lose the achievement gaps among the school[] districts in Iowa.”

It is funny to read in the plaintiffs’ allegations (filed in 2008) in 2012 after the big push this legislative session for an education reform plan recently described by Todd Dorman as “Glass’ vision of a centralized, top-down, core standards-driven, test-till-they-drop reform effort.”

The Court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ petition, holding “that plaintiffs’ specific challenges to the educational policies of this state are properly directed to the plaintiffs’ elected representatives, rather than the courts.”  [page 3]

For analysis of the case, see coverage at On Brief here, here, here, and here.

After the jump, I would just like to highlight some portions of the opinion touching on the nature of a basic education, local control, and due process.  I would note that Justice Appel’s dissent, in particular (beginning on page 86), provides an extensive description and discussion of historical roles of national and state governments in educating children, a history of public education in Iowa, an overview of provisions of the Iowa Constitution related to education, and an overview of important education cases. Continue reading