CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- A group of educators, parents and residents is asking the court to overturn the Iowa Board of Regents decision to close Malcolm Price Lab School as part of budget cuts last month.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Black Hawk County District Court by Waterloo attorney Thomas Frerichs, names 37 plaintiffs, claims the Iowa Board of Regents overstepped its authority Feb. 27 when it voted 7-0 to shutter Price Lab.
Officials at the Board of Regents declined to discuss the suit.
“If its litigation we wouldn’t be able to comment,” said Sheila Koppin, spokeswoman for the board.
The plaintiffs are asking for a stay so the court can review and invalidate the board’s action.
“The citizens of Iowa will suffer irreparable harm and injuries if a stay is not granted,” Frerichs said in the petition.
He noted teachers would lose their jobs and tenure track status and students would lose their opportunity to open enroll.
Frerichs argued the Board of Regents are likely relied on the wrong section of Iowa Code when it closed the school. He said state lawmakers in 2010 enacted Chapter 256G that transformed Price Lab and the Center for Early Childhood Development Education into the state’s Research and Development School.
As such, legislators gave the Board of Regents limited authority to operate the school and didn’t give it the power to disestablish the school, according to the lawsuit.
“The Iowa legislature did not specifically authorize the Board of Regents or any part of the executive branch of Iowa’s government to eliminate the statutorily mandated existence of the Iowa Research and Development School,” Frerichs wrote in the petition.
Earlier this month, local Democratic state senators asked the Iowa Attorney General’s Office for an opinion on whether the board has the authority to close Price Lab. Their request outlined arguments that the board overstepped its authority.
The AG’s decision is still pending.
Plaintiffs named include David Deibler, Lisa Osborn, Melanie Simpson, Christian Andrews, Anna Andrews, Rowena Tan, Michael Gasser, Ryan Haynes, Sarah Albertson-Corkery, Larry Quigley, Christopher Corkery, Ken Bleile, Dr. Stephen Mong, Elizabeth Mong, Carol Fishback, Stefanie Rose, Laura O’Connell, Patricia O’Connell, Dawn Ask-Martin, Amy VanArsdale, Stephen VanArsdale, Amy Turner-Hoeppner, Jaynie Feldman, Chad Feldman, Linda Reichle-Heinzel, Laurel Shaw, Douglas Shaw, Patricia Nelson, William Nelson, Gran Wetzel, Michele Wetzel, Maralyn Fagan, Barb Schilf, Stacy Glascock, Dr. Daniel Glascock and Gail Mauer.