DMPS Seeks Legal Remedy to State’s Rejection of Virtual Learning
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues – and schools and colleges across the state and nation are being disrupted due to cases among students and staff – the State of Iowa has rejected a request by Des Moines Public Schools to begin the 2020-21 school year with primarily virtual learning.
In response, DMPS will be filing a petition in the Iowa District Court for Polk County next week asking for an injunction of the State’s decision and judicial review of the State’s authority to deny duly elected school boards the ability to make decisions in accordance with the law and the interests of their local communities.
“Unfortunately, the Governor and her agencies have decided to ignore the local decision-making authority set out in the law to try and force their will on school districts to do things we all know are simply not safe at this time,” said Kyrstin Delagardelle, chair of the Des Moines School Board. “Since DMPS submitted our Return to Learn plan on July 1 after nearly two months of planning, it has become clear that we need less, not more, in-person instruction so that we can resume learning in a way that supports the health and well-being of our students, staff, and their families.”
“DMPS tried to work closely with the State, including numerous conversations with the Governor and her staff, and the Iowa Department of Education, to develop a plan that meets everyone’s expectations, but unfortunately we are not being provided the flexibility to do what we need to do to continue the education of our more than 32,000 students and protect the health and safety of our students, staff, their families and our community,” said Dr. Thomas Ahart, superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools. “The virtual learning proposed by DMPS is not an act of political defiance; it’s about following science as we resume instruction for our students while doing our part to keep our community safe during a time of continuing uncertainty regarding public health.”
In the interim, DMPS is continuing to make plans for a virtual start to the school year, and sports and activities will continue to practice and compete in-person with appropriate precautionary measures to be taken at all times. DMPS will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed to promote the health and safety of our students, staff, and community.