The Iowa State Education Association and the Iowa City Community School District are filing a lawsuit in Johnson County against the state requirement that schools returning to class have at least 50% in-person instruction.
The lawyer for the teachers union, Jay Hammond, says the ISEA is seeking one thing. “What we are asking the court to determine is that ultimate authority to determine the content and to effectuate the content of a plan to return to school lies with the individual school boards of every school district across the state of Iowa,” Hammond says.
He says they are alleging the governor’s emergency order violates the Iowa Constitution. “Which summarized states that state government is charged with the responsibility of protecting the health and welfare of the citizens of this state to the greatest extent that it can,” according to Hammond. “The governor is not protecting those rights — her proclamations are unconstitutional as a result.”
Hammond says they also take issue with the way the governor has interpreted the law passed by the Iowa Legislature in their special session that says classes should be primarily held in person. “We are alleging that the governor has exceeded her authority under Senate File 2310 — and in fact does not have the authority to determine the minimum amount of online learning. Or to set the standards and criteria when a school closing may be ordered due to the COVID-19 environment,” Hammond says.
Hammond says they are asking for a quick ruling on an injunction in the case. “A hearing as to whether the court believes there is merit to the lawsuit. And if so, has the authority to issue a temporary injunction — which would then restrain any enforcement of these proclamations,” Hammond says.
A spokesman for the Iowa City Schools says they have approved a 50-50 learning plan that meets the state guidelines while the lawsuit is being heard.