Open Enrollment Appeals
Five years ago, the State Board of Education issued criteria for analyzing late-filed open-enrollment requests that allege repeated acts of harassment. This was the first such appeal to the State Board following the enactment of the new anti-bullying/anti-harassment law and its definition of bullying and harassment.
Accordingly, all four of the following criteria must be met:
1. The harassment must have occurred after March 1 or the student or parent is able to demonstrate that the extent of the harassment could not have been known until after March 1.
2. The harassment must be specific electronic, written, verbal, or physical acts or conduct toward the student which created an objectively hostile school environment that meets one or more of the following conditions:
- Places the student in reasonable fear of harm to the student's person or property;
- Has a substantially detrimental effect on the student's physical or mental health;
- Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's academic performance;
- Has the effect of substantially interfering with the student's ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.
3. The evidence must show that the harassment is likely to continue despite the efforts of school officials to resolve the situation.
4. Changing the student's school district will alleviate the situation.
A parent or guardian who files an application for open enrollment after the March 1 deadline and alleges repeated acts of harassment is entitled to a hearing before the resident school board to try to prove that the application should be granted. The new criteria should be used by local boards, school officials, and the State Board of Education.
To read the State Board's full decision, click on the following link: http://www.educateiowa.gov/images/stories/appeals/janett.pdf
Here are two recent decisions on open enrollment appeals involving repeated acts of harassment where the decisions of the local boards were upheld: http://educateiowa.gov/images/stories/appeals/book26dec239.pdf