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Thursday, September 7, 2017

School district needs to stop breaking the law

The Johnson County district court ruled today that our school board majority acted illegally by refusing to forward the Hoover ballot petition to the County Auditor for placement on the September 12 ballot. The decision is here.
Plainly, if the injunction is not granted, the electors and voters, including Plaintiffs, will lose their ability to call to vote and vote upon a matter which the relevant statutes provide to them a right and power to vote. Moreover, their inability to call to vote and vote on the matter would occur despite their proper exercise of the right and power accorded by the relevant statutory provisions.

. . .

Finally, the court finds that the public interest in granting injunctive relief weighs in its favor, particularly in light of the fact that the relevant statutory provisions provide the clear right and power to voters and electors to vote on these matters of public interest.

(Emphasis added.) The court ordered the board to forward the petition to the Auditor. What will happen next is not entirely clear. The court decided that it did not have jurisdiction to order the issue placed on the September 12 ballot and that it would be impractical to do so at this point in any event. The September 12 election will go forward with the currently planned ballot.

I’ll update this post later with more details. But please keep in mind: If the board had forwarded the petition to the Auditor as it was legally required to do, this matter would have cost this district and the county nothing other than a bit of ink (since there was an election occurring anyway). How much has the district now spent—from the general fund, which pays for teachers in the classrooms—to defend the board’s illegal action?

21 comments:

amy said...

Oh boy.

This says to me that if the district attempts to demolish Hoover, there will surely be a court challenge based on the board's having illegally blocked a vote on the issue. Is that a realistic/practicable take?

Anonymous said...

The board majority and admin don't care, they got what they wanted.

Frank said...

They knew the risk and potential costs when they refused to put this on the ballot. Any cost that this incurs is on the board majority that chose to act illegally, not those that spoke up for the injustice that has occurred. ICCSD should get a refund from Joe Holland for his shoddy legal work on the matter, or at least hold him accountable.

Anonymous said...

They got what the majority wanted for sure. The board should have put this on the ballot so the public could vote to tear it down and do whats best for the greatest number of students in the district. Then we wouldn't have to listen to the loud minority of people that think it should stay open.

And honestly, what an absurd headline. As I recall, the board acted on the advice of their attorney. There was no intent to break the law. The decision will almost certainly be appealed. Time will tell if the act was illegal. I think it was foolish but not convinced it will ultimately be determined that it was illegal.

If you want to talk about wasting money, how about you talk about how much you and others are encouraging the district to waste by starting all over with the bond vote. Talk about a waste of money. WOW!

Anonymous said...

So typical of this administration and its school board allies...their first instinct is to stifle dissent, even on the flimsiest of excuses. Well, justice seems to have prevailed for once. This was voter suppression, pure and simple, and the law ruled for the voting public. Such an institution should NOT have access to $191,000,000, period! To paraphrase Chris in his recent op ed: this is the administration on its best behavior, with its hand out for a big check. Can you imagine what it will be like if this bond passes? Congratulations, Hoover folk! Thanks for fighting the good fight. Hopefully, this will wake people up.

Anonymous said...

Anyone with half a brain knew that what the board did was wrong. I believe that Joe Holland knew this was wrong. They didn't care that it was wrong because it would be too late to get it on the ballot. The only way to bring change with this corrupt board and administration is to bring legal action. Now the district and county will pay for the board and Joe Holland's disregard of the law.

Anonymous said...

(Anonymous 1:32pm), how do you know there was no intent to break the law? Evidence please.

I doubt that intent even matters in a case like this, but I honestly would like to know where you came up with this assertion.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when big money gets involved and everybody wants their chuck of change. Nobody wins. Too bad the kids are the ones that will suffer the most. Iowa City is turning into Little Chicago with all of the corruption and violence. This is what the East-sider's fear the most, but they are the ones creating this mess. Vote NO on this big stinking bond and let's turn this sinking ship around before it is too late.

Anonymous said...

Joe Holland should be fired too at this point. This is ridiculous.

What a waste of taxpayer money. All to keep the Hoover petition off the same ballot as the bond question.

Maybe this will give the NO voters an extra boost and crank them out even more. That could be the silver lining here.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:32 / J: Red Herring. -1 pt

Anonymous said...

Mary Kate Hayek,

What do you know about plans to demolish Hoover so that a baseball field can be built in its place?

Anonymous said...

I confess, I have no evidence, other than common sense, that there was no intent to break the law. Anymore than you or anyone else has evidence that there was. Suggestions that the board is corrupt are absurd. These are people that volunteer a significant amount of time and energy in this process. And most, although not all, are not only concerned with their own backyard or their own school.

Anonymous said...

Wrong. The intent was to suppress the legitimate voice of over 2300 residents. In most democracies, that is supposed to be against the law. Last I checked, we live in one.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:18 PM, you said you have no evidence other than common sense. Well let me just say your common sense is nonsense to me, along with at least 2,300 residents and potentially many more, and the judge. In the 2015 election, there were 24,000 voters. Lori Roetlin won her seat with just over 3,000 votes. So just the 2,300 residents who signed the Hoover petition are enough votes to make or break any of the candidates.

Charles Henderson said...

WOW!!! The "bullies" of the school board have been chased off the playground by the long arm of the law. if this doesn't ratchet up the NO vote, i don't know what else can. thanks to Greg Geerdes for his excellent legal mind. and thanks to Joe Holland for tripping over his own legal feet. i imagine he was just doing the Superintendent's bidding, like the hand full of others who have steered this school district in the wrong, and possibly self serving, direction.
The one thing about these posts that bothers me, is the number of "Anonymous" signees. what is everybody afraid of? retaliation by the school board? are teachers afraid of losing their jobs if they speak out? if this is the case, then today's ruling is just the tip of a very, very ugly iceberg. and that just makes me sad.

amy said...

Speaking of district overreach:

So the kids now have Chromebooks, but apparently it's not bad enough that Google collects all their info; the district's bought a netnanny package called Securly that creeps on the kids' every move and sends parents and district administrators the digests. While the company, which is this bunch of tech dudes, promises not to sell personally identifiable info, nothing in their contract says they won't sell aggregated info, and they can sell the personally identifiable student info as an asset if they sell their company.

The netnanny is federally required; creeping on students is not. Parents have no way of turning off the creeping (though we're cheerfully told we can close our eyes and not look at it!) and indeed district IT says Securly won't turn off the creeping, because duh, where does their aggregated info to sell come from otherwise.

The magical part here is that the Securly contract allows the *district* to give permission to creep on the students. The parents' permission is not required, and I see no mechanism here by which I can say, "Yo, stop creeping on my kid."

I kind of suspect that's not a defensible thing. The district is not the kids' guardian. I'm willing to go in on a challenge on this if others are up for it.

Anonymous said...

Charles - I suspect you analysis might be correct. It's equally plausible, however, that many of the anonymous posters are the same person posting and essentially having a conversation with themselves. It's also possible some that post under a name simultaneously post under multiple names and/or anonymous. Given this fact it's impossible to tell how many unique posters are in this page

amy said...

Gosh, you know what might solve a good deal of that problem?

A district that didn't have a culture of retaliation.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

In your opinion, what do you think will be accomplished by having Hoover on the '19 ballot.

And what has been accomplished with this recent judgement?

Karl said...

I am not a lawyer so sorry in advance, but I have some questions. This lawsuit appears to be against the board members personally and also as a board director. What does that mean for them personally and why would it be against them as an individual? Joe Holland as a district lawyer essentially is working for all of us in this district, but it appears that he may have a conflict of interest as well with other clients he represents. In this case it seems like he has provided legal advice that was not sound and may not have been in the best interest of the district. Is there any recourse that we may have against Holland or his firm? I mean the legal advice he provided seemed to be grasping for a loophole in the definition of a word and was a very weak argument. Why were they so adamant to have the Hoover question NOT appear on the ballot? Does this lawsuit damage Holland's reputation as a lawyer? Does this lawsuit damage the ICCSD district reputation? Will ICCSD continue to use Holland or his firm?

Dave said...

Word is that the demolition of Hoover is justified because most students live within "walking distance" of any of three other schools: Lucas, Lemme, or Longfellow. Can anyone sit at the intersection of Court and 1st Avenue and claim that any of those 3 schools are within "walking distance"? The Board denied the petition because they want to tear down Hoover, not because there is a rational reason to do so.