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DES MOINES --- The Iowa Attorney General will not issue a ruling regarding the decision to close Malcolm Price Lab School because of concerns about interfering with pending litigation.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday by a group of parents, educators and residents seeks to overturn the Feb. 27 decision by the Iowa Board of Regents to close the school on the University of Northern Iowa campus. In early March, a number of legislators asked the Attorney General’s office for an opinion on whether the board had the authority to close the school.

On Wednesday the attorney general’s office declined to issue the decision, citing a section of Iowa code that states the office may do so if “the matter is pending in litigation or litigation is imminent, or other formal proceeding provided by law for resolution of the issue and issuance of the opinion could interfere with the authority of the other forum.”

Deputy Attorney General Julie Pottorff indicated it was normal for the office to decline to issue opinions when a court case is pending and it could interfere with the office’s ability to defend state officials.

“Generally, we do not issue opinions when to do so would interfere with the authority of the courts,” Pottorff wrote.

“I think that’s appropriate,” said Rep. Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, a 1990 graduate of Price Lab who was one of the three Republican House members to request the opinion. “They had the time to get an opinion out before the lawsuit, but I understand that it takes time to publish an opinion.”

Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo, called a community meeting in his district after the Price Lab closure was announced. He also is one of the Democrats who asked the attorney general to weigh in with an opinion.

“I’m OK with it. I think it’s one venue versus another,” he said. “In terms of responsiveness and from a legal perspective, the lawsuit that the parents have filed gets us to a quicker resolution anyway because they’re asking for a stay or an injunction, and that means the court has to understand the timeliness of the request, and that may not be necessarily so with an informal request of the AG by legislators.”

Waterloo attorney Thomas Frerichs filed the suit. He argued the Board of Regents used the wrong section of Iowa Code to close the school and the code gave the board authority to operate the school but not to eliminate it. The appropriate section of code, according to Frerichs, is Chapter 256G that transformed the school into the state’s research and development school.

The lawsuit includes 37 plaintiffs.

Under UNI President Ben Allen’s recommendation to the Board of Regents, the school would close after June 30.

EARLIER STORY

DES MOINES, Iowa --- The Iowa Attorney General will not issue a ruling regarding the decision to close Malcolm Price Lab School because of concerns about interfering with pending litigation.

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A lawsuit filed Tuesday by a group of parents, educators and residents sought to overturn the Feb. 27 decision by the Iowa Board of Regents to close the school on the University of Northern Iowa campus.

In early March, a number of legislators asked the Attorney General’s office for an opinion on whether the board had the authority to close the school.

This morning, the Attorney General’s office declined to issue the decision, citing a section of Iowa code that states the office may do so if “the matter is pending in litigation or litigation is imminent, or other formal proceeding provided by law for resolution of the issue and issuance of the opinion could interfere with the authority of the other forum.”

Deputy Attorney General Julie Pottorff indicated the office typically doesn't issue opinions when a court case is pending because it could interfere with the office’s ability to defend state officials.

“Generally, we do not issue opinions when to do so would interfere with the authority of the courts,” Pottorff wrote.

“I think that’s appropriate,” said Rep. Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, a 1990 graduate of Price Lab who was one of the three Republican House members to request the opinion. “They had the time to get an opinion out before the lawsuit, but I understand that it takes time to publish an opinion.”

Waterloo attorney Thomas Frerichs filed the suit. He argued the Board of Regents used the wrong section of Iowa Code to close the school.

He said the code gave the board the authority to operate the school but not to eliminate it.

The appropriate section of code, according to Frerichs, is Chapter 256G that transformed the school into the state’s research and development school.

The lawsuit includes 37 plaintiffs.

Under UNI President Ben Allen’s recommendation to the Board of Regents, the school would close after June 30.

 

Correction added (5/29): In the quote in paragraph 8 from Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo, the term “likeliness” was incorrectly used instead of the word “timeliness" in the original version of this story.

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To read our story on the lawsuit, click here.

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