Governor Kim Reynolds today said Des Moines Public School officials have made “unacceptable” decisions about starting the school year with online classes for most students.
“The board’s action last night was disappointing,” Reynolds said during a news conference. “While the board voted 4-3 to prepare to implement a hybrid learning model, there’s no clear sense of how or when that might happen.”
Some members of the Des Moines School Board have said the district should continue online classes for at least the first nine weeks of the school year. In-person classes will only resume when the prevalence of Covid dips to certain levels in Des Moines. Reynolds said those metrics appear to be designed so students don’t come back to the classroom.
“So to be clear, Des Moines Public School is no closer to compliance with state law than they were before last night’s vote, which I think is unfortunate for the students,” Reynolds said.
The time students have spent in online classes since the school year started in Des Moines last week may have to be made up later in the year, according to the governor. The district did not get a state waiver for internet-only instruction.
“326 out of 327 school districts have figured it out,” Reynolds said. “A lot of these school districts have been in school for three weeks!”
The state’s largest school district is in danger of losing its accreditation.
“We were very hopeful to work with the district to find a solution,” said Iowa Department of Education director Ann Lebo. “At this point it seems that they were well into a plan that is out of compliance and will continue to do so, so we will initiate that process on our end.”
The State Board of Education ultimately decides when school districts lose “accredited” status and are dissolved. School administrators accused of violating state standards go before a separate panel. The State Board of Educational Examiners can both sanction and revoke educators’ licenses.