ICCSD denied temporary injunction on school reopening

The school district, which began online classes today, was denied a request for a temporary injunction seeking local control of school reopenings.


Michael Guhin

The Iowa City Community School District sign is seen on Apr. 29, 2019

Rylee Wilson, News Editor

The Iowa City Community School District and the Iowa State Education Association were denied the temporary injunction in the lawsuit filed against the state, arguing that school districts should control when schools reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The district filed a lawsuit with the Iowa State Education Association on Aug. 19, requesting local control of school reopenings. 

Judge Mary Chicchelly denied the ISEA and ICCSDs request for a temporary injunction, writing in the order that the situation did not warrant an injunction. 

“While COVID-19 certainly presents the risk of harm to Petitioners’ members, staff, and students, there also are risks to students that may result from school closures, as described in Dr. Pedati’s affidavit,” Chicchelly wrote. “The risks are compelling and equal on both sides of this argument, and Petitioners cannot show that the harms of which they complain outweigh those of the experiences that students might have if schools are permitted to shut down indefinitely and without oversight from Respondents. “ 

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced July 17 that Iowa schools would need to hold at least 50 percent of classes in-person. 

In counties with over a 20-percent 14-day positivity rate, schools can request to move online for two weeks. 

The current 14-day average positivity rate in Johnson County is 22.2 percent. 

In a message to families sent Tuesday afternoon, ICCSD Interim Superintendent Matt Denger said the district had prepared for the possibility of the request being denied.

“We will review our options and determine the best way to move forward,” Denger said in the email. “In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 positivity rates in Johnson County and we will seek permission from the State to conduct off-site learning when the conditions dictate.

ICCSD received permission from the state on Aug. 26 to begin the first two weeks of the school year online. 

A similar lawsuit from the Des Moines Public School District was also denied a request for a temporary injunction by a judge Tuesday. 

Tuesday was the first day of online class for the district. The ICCSD board of directors will meet Tuesday night.