Iowa Supreme Court to consider case against Iowa City Community School District

The Iowa Supreme Court will consider a case against the Iowa City School District about the demolition of Hoover Elementary.


Michael Guhin

The Iowa City Community School District sign is seen on November 5th, 2018. (Michael Guhin/The Daily Iowan)

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

A court case against the Iowa City School District about the closing and demolition of Hoover Elementary School is heading to the Iowa Supreme Court.

As of March 28, the court had screened the case. It hasn’t been assigned, and no oral arguments are scheduled at this time.

The case was filed in 2017 by Heath Young, Del Holland, and Blake Hendrickson through the 6th District Court in Johnson County. The plaintiffs argue the demolition of the elementary school should have been voted on during the September 2017 referendum.

According to court documents, the plaintiffs petitioned against the demolition of Hoover and submitted it to School District for placement on the September 2017 school-election ballot. The School District voted to not accept and not submit the petition to the county Auditor’s Office.

“If [the plaintiffs] acquire a sufficient number of voters’ signatures on a petition, [the plaintiffs] have the right to have [the issue] placed on the ballot initiative by which the voters determine whether or not the school building in question will be disposed of,” the court documents said. 

The closure of the school faced opposition from parents in the district prior to and at the time of the School Board’s decision through the protest group “Save Hoover,” which began protesting almost a year before the decision.

The decision to close Hoover occurred in 2013 and is part of the School District’s facilities master plan. As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, the plan, which envisions costing $252 million, includes the construction of three elementary schools, a new high school, and among other items.

RELATED: Hoover Elementary closing fall 2019

The small area of City High and proximity of Hoover to the high school prevented the School Board from making the desired renovations to the high school, School District Superintendent Stephen Murley said. The board decided to close the current Hoover and build another elementary school on the East Side, Murley said.

As the DI has previously reported, the School Board had numerous reasons behind closing the school, including the building’s lack of air conditioning and other costly improvements. Hoover is also located near other elementary schools, so the Hoover students had other elementary schools they could attend.

Before the referendum, a parent of students attending Hoover Elementary, Mary Kate Pilcher Hayek, expressed support for closing the school.

“The School Board is a group of people who volunteer hours of their time away from their family and jobs. They did not assume their position; they were elected by the community,” Pilcher Hayek said. “The facilities master plan, which includes Hoover’s demolition, was vetted ad nauseam to the public. Considering the complexity of the [plan], I applaud a volunteer board for working so hard to develop a plan that provides long-term solutions to facility needs throughout the district.”

The initial ruling on the case does not prevent the School District demolishing the school before a vote. The School Board decided that waiting until the legal and voting process for the case was completed would be the best course of action, Murley said.

“The district continues to work with legal counsel to fulfill all obligations related to the vote,” Murley said. “Following the outcome of the Supreme Court review, the district will take appropriate action as determined by the court.”