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.

To read our story on the lawsuit, click here.

Cops and courts reporter for the Courier

(16) comments

IsIntegrityLost
IsIntegrityLost

“The citizens of Iowa will suffer irreparable harm and injuries"

Really? How am I being harmed? The academy award for best supporting actor in a drama goes to Tom Frerichs.

momofthree
momofthree

I cannot imagine what kind of harm our citizens will suffer. I am discouraged with Danielson and co. who did nothing at all when schools closed in Waterloo. How is this different? Close this money pit and get it over with!

mike1933
mike1933

Hope they didn't pay Tom Frerichs up front because this law suit is a joke.. Next person being sued is going to be you Tom!!

dfrank5775
dfrank5775

We will be harmed by paying less taxes.

NewsReader
NewsReader

Amazing what lengths people will go to get their way at the cost of all the rest of us paying taxes for this "private" school. I imagine nobody has given a second thought to the additional funds that this lawsuit will cost. Should we cut more college based programs, to satisfy the few that attend this "private" school funded with tax monies?

Tangent
Tangent

A publicly funded private school that has sued parents for enrolling their child there has parents mad when they want to close it because of lack of funds.

ReallywithSethandAmy
ReallywithSethandAmy

Really?!? You think that you will pay less taxes? You have got to be kidding me. Currently, UNI funds MPLS to the tune of about $3 million per year. The population of Iowa is about 3 million people. That is a dollar per person, for all you non-math majors out there. (And yes, I know that many do not pay taxes, such as kids and unemployed University Professors. I'm just illustrating the point that the tax relief you expect by closing the school will not amount to any significant money back in your pocket). If MPLS were allowed to flourish, they would accomodate about 60 kids per grade level, and they would not need ANY money from UNI. The per pupil funding from the state would be enough to fund the school. Therefore, no 'additional' taxes are needed, since the state is going to pay the per pupil funds no matter where the kids are enrolled. And assuming they DO close the school, the congress is not going to materially change the tax code because of this. They will just allocate that money elsewhere, probably to further fund Iowa and Iowa State. What you all should be concerned about is that they are cutting funding to UNI, which is closing 50 different programs/majors/minors, while not cutting ANY administrative positions. UNI will see declining enrollment. (A University of that sive There will be less college kids with student loan money burning a hole in their pockets. They will spend less locally. The local businesses will see declining revenues. The property values around the lab school will start to decline. Many families whose livelihood came from being employed at UNI will move elsewhere for work, (this is already happening). There will be a glut of houses on the market, further lowering property values. The tax base starts to erode. To make up for this, they raise the property tax rates. The Cedar Falls schools are further over-crowded. The ripple effect will go on and on. For those of you who have the capacity to understand this, no further explanation is necessary. For those of you who can't, no explanation will suffice.

unipanther
unipanther

[quote]ReallywithSethandAmy said: "Really?!? You think that you will pay less taxes? You have got to be kidding me. Currently, UNI funds MPLS to the tune of about $3 million per year. The population of Iowa is about 3 million people. That is a dollar per person, for all you non-math majors out there. (And yes, I know that many do not pay taxes, such as kids and unemployed University Professors. I'm just illustrating the point that the tax relief you expect by closing the school will not amount to any significant money back in your pocket). If MPLS were allowed to flourish, they would accomodate about 60 kids per grade level, and they would not need ANY money from UNI. The per pupil funding from the state would be enough to fund the school. Therefore, no 'additional' taxes are needed, since the state is going to pay the per pupil funds no matter where the kids are enrolled. And assuming they DO close the school, the congress is not going to materially change the tax code because of this. They will just allocate that money elsewhere, probably to further fund Iowa and Iowa State. What you all should be concerned about is that they are cutting funding to UNI, which is closing 50 different programs/majors/minors, while not cutting ANY administrative positions. UNI will see declining enrollment. (A University of that sive There will be less college kids with student loan money burning a hole in their pockets. They will spend less locally. The local businesses will see declining revenues. The property values around the lab school will start to decline. Many families whose livelihood came from being employed at UNI will move elsewhere for work, (this is already happening). There will be a glut of houses on the market, further lowering property values. The tax base starts to erode. To make up for this, they raise the property tax rates. The Cedar Falls schools are further over-crowded. The ripple effect will go on and on. For those of you who have the capacity to understand this, no further explanation is necessary. For those of you who can't, no explanation will suffice."[/quote]

They have had how many years already to flourish? And yet here we are in 2012 and they still don't. The road has to end somewhere - and if it saves the tax payers $1.00 a citizen, thats $1.00 dollar in my pocket that I can now spend.

ReallywithSethandAmy
ReallywithSethandAmy

To UNIPANTHER:

The powers that be have tried intermittently to close the school at least as far back as the 1970's. Every time they do this, people pull out. There are 50 NEW enrollees signed up to transfer to PLS next year, but again, threats to close the school shakes everyone's confidence. It is starting to fluorish again, (after the last major threat to close in 2003), with this influx of 50 kids, and almost $300,000 in per pupil funds from the state, (that again DO NOT raise taxes to ANYONE), but now we are taking another huge step back, so enrollment will drop again. With legislation declaring PLS the Iowa Research and Development School, everyone finally thought this is a stable, established program, and is again picking up steam, only to have this happen 3 years later. I will reiterate, once more, the point that closing this school is not going to change your taxes. They will stay the same, and be frittered away on something. Maybe it will be on the millions of dollars in tax breaks the state gives to WalMart. Why isn't anyone outraged by that?

teach2learn
teach2learn

[quote]unipanther said: "They have had how many years already to flourish? And yet here we are in 2012 and they still don't. The road has to end somewhere - and if it saves the tax payers $1.00 a citizen, thats $1.00 dollar in my pocket that I can now spend. "[/quote]


This comment demonstrates how little you know about Price Lab's situation. It has failed to flourish because of arbitrary enrollment caps put in place to protect Cedar Falls from losing too many students. Ben Allen has instructed the faculty and parents of Price Lab to refrain from promoting Price Lab in any way, for fear of upsetting Cedar Falls. He was more concerned about being a good neighbor to the Cedar Falls District than helping Price Lab. This went on the entire time he has been at UNI. The Cedar Falls school District will not allow anyone in grades k-6 that does not live in the buffer zone to open enroll to Price Lab. Without these external constraints, Price Lab would have had much larger enrollment, and in fact is on pace to have enough enrollment that it would not need any funds from UNI in 2-3 years.

class of 993
class of 993

teach2learn. your arrogance woudl be enough for me to keep my kids from price lab. Please show me the correspondence where this was said. I am guessing you cant provide it. Here is the issue I have. Price lab gets the state funding per pupil from the taxpayers who are supporting the CF schools, then they also collect money from UNI from the taxpayer. Price Lab is double dipping the taxpayer. Please show me the arbitrary enrollment caps....bet ya cant.

teach2learn
teach2learn

[quote]class of 993 said: "teach2learn. your arrogance woudl be enough for me to keep my kids from price lab. Please show me the correspondence where this was said. I am guessing you cant provide it. Here is the issue I have. Price lab gets the state funding per pupil from the taxpayers who are supporting the CF schools, then they also collect money from UNI from the taxpayer. Price Lab is double dipping the taxpayer. Please show me the arbitrary enrollment caps....bet ya cant."[/quote]

Why would my arrogance keep you away from Price Lab? I am not affiliated with Price Lab in any way. Just think it is a valuable institution and the closing has not been handled well. As to the enrollment caps, it is discussed in the emails released today. It is part of Senate file 470. Enrollment at the lab school can not increase more than 5% over the previous year's enrollment no. of students from Cedar Falls School District. It is simply a fact, no arrogance on my part. It does exist, it is written into the law. There are more provisions to the enrollment cap as well, regarding enrollment of children from other school districts.

Jonica
Jonica

In earlier years there was no cap on enrollment set by CF. In fact PLS would refuse to take elementary children who lived in the district for any reason they determined. They have also refused to take students into the secondary school who lived in the district. At the same time they allowed a dean's child who did not live in the district to attend the elementary school and the same was done for other UNI employees. The school enrolled the daughter of the Waterloo Superintendent and she had not been released by the Waterloo Board. There are other instances of PLS not following their own rules which only adds to the school reputation. This does not even include the last group of parents who with PLS's knowledge enrolled their children against the regulations. All of this contributes to the thinking that the school is not the stellar place the backers would like us to believe. Also, the school as currently run, cannot support itself on just the Iowa per pupil cost. One only has to read the articles in the Courier to understand that. What other school of that size can afford to maintain a field house, swimming pool and auditorium just for starters? I, for one, do not want to pay any taxes to provide the school with these unnecessary perks. That has gone one far too long as it is. Being the Iowa Research and Development School is a bit misleading. That money could be better spend in the College of Education which has more people trained in research. I think they sought that designation in an attempt to keep themselves from being closed. I also think they tried to take away schooling for the blind from Vinton and have it placed with them for the same reason.
I understand that the parents and students are upset about the school closing, just as other parents and students have been when their schools closed. Yet they move on to different schools and life goes on. Parents, you might want to think of your children and help them in the transition rather that continuing to make them believe that you can retain the status quo. Children are remarkably flexible, more so than most of their parents. All of you will be okay; schools have closed before.

linnea
linnea

[quote]class of 993 said: "Here is the issue I have. Price lab gets the state funding per pupil from the taxpayers who are supporting the CF schools, then they also collect money from UNI from the taxpayer. Price Lab is double dipping the taxpayer. "[/quote]

Price Lab has two missions: to teach K-12 students, and to teach UNI education students. It gets per-pupil funding from the state for the first task, and it gets money from UNI for the second. Teachers at PLS have time built into their schedules for working with UNI students. It's written into their job descriptions. They are not double-dipping.

Iknowbest
Iknowbest

Linnea, but if the teacher education students from UNI can be placed into student teaching positions within the public schools, and we can cut the budget, then ultimately we have fulfilled the mission of the school of education! As far as the education of the K-12 students, that is, and should be the lowest priority in this discussion. Ultimately keeping UNI solvent, and fulfilling the mission of all of the UNI students(not just education majors) is the goal.

linnea
linnea

[quote]Iknowbest said: "Linnea, but if the teacher education students from UNI can be placed into student teaching positions within the public schools, and we can cut the budget, then ultimately we have fulfilled the mission of the school of education! As far as the education of the K-12 students, that is, and should be the lowest priority in this discussion. Ultimately keeping UNI solvent, and fulfilling the mission of all of the UNI students(not just education majors) is the goal."[/quote]

That's a big "IF" in your first sentence there, and it remains to be seen whether it can happen without reducing the quality of UNI's teacher education program. The people who do the placements say it is already hard to find placements for student teachers in local schools, and now they'll have to find room for even more of them . . .

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