Busing and Governance
Executive Limitations and the Safety Standard
Safety Concerns and Conclusions
The Characteristics of the Golfview Route
The Past History of Golfview Busing
The Administrative Solution
Appendix A: The Appeal
Appendix B: ICCSD Board Policy Appeal Process
Appendix C: Iowa Code Sec. 285.1
Appendix D: Board Policy 702.1: Transportation Eligibility
Appendix E: Administrative Regulations 7021-702.1c: Student Transportation
North Liberty residents of the Golfview Mobile Home Park1 appeal Superintendent Dr. Lane Plugge's decision not to bus their children to Penn Elementary School.
(1) The net effect of the Board's decision in this appeal is that the children will be bused.
(2) Although that is the consequence, it is not the focus of this appeal.
This opinion2 summarizes why these two statements are not the seeming contradiction they may first appear to be.3
It also details what makes this case somewhat unique, in terms of (a) Board involvement in what would almost always be an administrative decision, and (b) the range, number, and seriousness of the qualities of the particular walking/biking route the Board finds to be “unsafe” (as that word is used in its executive limitations policies). It is highly unlikely that a route with these characteristics will ever again be presented to either the Superintendent or the Board.
(c) And in this connection the Board wishes to emphasize that it is the sum total of the objections to this route, rather than any single reason taken alone, that constitutes the basis for its decision.
Busing and Governance
Which school children are and are not provided bus transportation by the Iowa City Community School District is a function of state law,4 old Board policies,5 administrative regulations,6 and past custom and practice.
Some school districts choose to provide the option of busing for all their students.7 This has not been the traditional practice of the ICCSD.
And given the Board's governance model those standards neither need to be nor have been addressed by the Board in this appeal.
Decisions regarding which of our 10,500 students will and will not be bused to school are, for the most part, a classic example of administrative standards and decisions delegated by the Board to the Superintendent.8
Indeed, this appeal is governed by the Board's "ICCSD Board Policy Appeals Process" of March 28, 2000, which provides, in part:
“[S]takeholders should be aware that, with extremely rare exceptions, the Board will most likely not involve itself with a review of administrative actions or the Superintendent's resolution of administrative disputes – unless they raise a significant issue of Board policy. A policy issue might be involved because of (a) inconsistency between an administrative decision and clear Board policy, (b) the need for a repeal or revision of a Board policy, or (c) the need for a new Board policy.”
What the Board concludes in the appeal before it is that (1) this appeal does involve "a significant issue of Board policy," and there is (2) an "inconsistency between an administrative decision and clear Board policy."
Executive Limitations and the Safety Standard
The specific language before the Board in this case is found in its "Executive Limitations" polices. Specifically, it is the executive limitation titled "Positive Stakeholder Relations (Level 2a)." It provides in its entirety:
"With respect to interactions with stakeholders the Superintendent shall not cause or allow conditions, procedures, or decisions that are unsafe, undignified, unnecessarily intrusive, or that fail to provide appropriate confidentiality or privacy."When there is a difference of opinion between stakeholders and the Superintendent regarding the intended meaning of these words – in this instance, what do and do not constitute "conditions, procedures, or decisions that are unsafe" – only the Board can finally resolve what the Board means by the words it has used.
The fact question before us involves the route Penn students are required to walk between their homes in Golfview and the school.
Safety Concerns and Conclusions
School safety is, for a variety of perfectly valid reasons, a high priority of parents nationally and within our District. It is a high priority for the members of this Board9 – as, we are confident, it is for the Superintendent and other District personnel as well.
At the same time, shouting "safety," like a mantra, without more, is not a rational basis for changing long-established policies. Especially is this true with regard to any unnecessary provision of transportation.10
That is why, in this case, a majority of the Board members have, at one time or another, individually visited the area, walked and biked the path, and driven through the Golfview mobile home park.
We have also been presented, with this appeal, an appendix of about 40 letters and other documents from appellants and others. They include statements from the North Liberty police chief, city council members, and an official of the Crandic Railroad. Although not attached, they are on file at the ICCSD Central Administrative Office.
Although individual Board members may rest their safety concerns on a somewhat different weighing of each of the characteristics of this route, the Board unanimously agrees that:
(1) requiring Penn students to walk or bike the only route available to them is an "unsafe" condition (or decision), andIn other words, although the Board's analysis in this case is of some precedential value, its fact finding is not. The likelihood of these specific facts ever existing elsewhere in the District in this combination is somewhere between extremely slim indeed and none at all.
(2) it is the combined force of all of the unsafe aspects of this route, rather than any single factor taken alone, that is the basis for the Board's decision.11
The Characteristics of the Golfview Route
(1) Penn is an elementary school. The students range in age from five to twelve.12
(2) All concede the distance from Golfview to Penn is approximately two miles.13
(3) The route is not designed as a "sidewalk" in the usual sense. It is a surfaced recreational path.14
(4) The features that make the route favorable for a recreational path are the very features that the Board believes contribute to its being unsafe for young children to take as a regular route to and from school.
(a) In addition to running through woods and by a stream, the path also parallels a railroad track, separated only by a low fence and an overgrown right-of-way but a few feet wide. Board members note from their own early experiences the attraction that a railroad can provide young children,15 and the ease with which such feeble fences can be climbed over, under or through.16(5) It is difficult for the Board to evaluate "spooky" as a safety factor.25 Fear is in the mind of the beholder.26 And even there it changes over time with both actual experience and the impact of television's imagery.27 But public policy makers cannot ignore the public’s real fears, however statistically irrational those fears may be from the perspective of the student of risk theory.28
(b) Streams are an equally attractive, and potentially dangerous, diversion for children on the way to school.17 Along this route the stream, of various depths, is not even set off by a fence.
(c) There is a substantial length of the path18 sufficiently low that water flows over it19 following a rain to as much as six inches in depth.20 It leaves a substantial residue of mud when the water recedes. According to the North Liberty Police Chief even he is unable to walk the route at such times.21 One Board member nearly fell twice in an effort to walk this portion of the route.
Moreover, unfortunately, this happens to be one of the more remote areas of the route. Thus, any child who fell while walking or biking would be unlikely to receive immediate help.22
(d) As a bicycle trail, the route poses additional hazards for pedestrians – as anyone who walks on sidewalks or trails also used by bicycles can attest. In fact, bicyclists are the first to acknowledge the danger.23
(e) At least historically, this has been an all-seasons recreational trail. In other words, during the winter months snow is deliberately left on the trail for the benefit of those who wish to use it for cross-country skiing. Dr. Plugge has told the Board in open regular meetings that North Liberty officials have assured him it will be cleared of snow this winter. On the other hand, there are members of the North Liberty City Council who have filed statements in this proceeding indicating the contrary.24 We expressly make no findings regarding this conflict, except to note that, at a minimum, the two uses – a regularly cleared path for school children, and a snow-covered path for skiers – are inherently incompatible.
(f) Finally, this is a north-south recreational trail that lies to the east of Golfview. There is but one point of easy access to the route from the homes. This is at the eastern end of Golfview Avenue. Children living elsewhere in Golfview can reach the trail only by walking along streets within the mobile home park that have no sidewalks and then across an open field. The field is, of course, muddy after a rain and difficult to cross after a heavy snow.
Nor are these fears totally irrational.29 The Board has neither time nor resources to investigate every allegation fully or make fact-findings with regard to them. But it has been presented with assertions that there has been at least one case of an arrest for public drunkenness30 along this route as well as a case of indecent exposure and at least rumors of rape.31 Administrators of this very District have sent parents notices warning of sexual predators residing in the area.32
(6) The curious and adventurous children are not the only ones potentially threatened by trains and railroad tracks. Even those willing to be fenced in must, at some point on their way to school, cross an unguarded track.33
The Past History of Golfview Busing
The history of the District's treatment of these appellants and their children, while not directly related to "safety" as such is not totally irrelevant.
The District once assigned children from the Golfview area to Penn Elementary. At that time a judgment was made that their safety required that they be bused.
Subsequently, children from this area were reassigned, often notwithstanding their protests, to Wickham Elementary. Once again safety required they be bused.
This fall the District chose to reassign them once again, against their will, back to Penn. Only this time they were not only uprooted from a familiar school they were further informed that they would no longer have school bus transportation service. Not only were they being forced to make another move they didn't want to make, they were also being denied the transportation they had formerly enjoyed.34
The Administrative Solution
The Board expresses no view as to what administrative solution the Superintendent should devise in response to this Board opinion – although it is aware that in all probability he will choose to provide busing. However, we do not mean to preclude his exploration of other options consistent with this decision.
All we hold is that the route from Golfview to Penn along the recreational path constitutes an "inconsistency between an administrative decision and clear Board policy" – namely the executive limitation regarding "conditions, procedures or decisions that are unsafe."
The request for a hearing is granted.
The hearing has been held on the paper record before the Board, as supplemented by Board members' personal inspection of the site, presentations by appellants at regular Board meetings, and informal inquiries.
The Superintendent's decision has been found to violate an executive limitation and is reversed.
1. For purposes of this appeal the Board considers letters from the following individuals, attached to the formal appeal document, to constitute their participation as appellants: Dee Carter, Todd Carter, Julie Davis, Krystal M. Irelan, Mollie S. Oakes, Denise Robe, Patricia A. Tenborg and Annette Yeggy. Letters from North Liberty officials and others are considered supporting documents – although the Board recognizes that some or all of these individuals may also consider themselves aggrieved and parties to this appeal.
2. Appended to the opinion, and incorporated by this reference, are a number of Appendices. Appendix A is the appellants’ appeal. Appendix B is the Board’s “Policy Appeals Process.” Appendix C is Iowa Code Sec. 285.1. Appendix D is old Board policy 702.1. Appendix E is old Administrative Regulations 702.1, 702.1a, 702.1b and 702.1c.
3. A fuller understanding may be obtained by reading the Board's governance policies, effective date March 7, 2000, the "Board Policy Appeals Process," March 28, 2000 (attached as Appendix B), and the first decision rendered under that appeals process, "Petition for School Board Review In Re: Superintendent's Tennis Lights Decision," released May 2, 2000. (Those reading this opinion as a Web page can find those documents with the indicated links. Others may find them in hard copy at the ICCSD Central Administrative Office, schools’ media centers, and the Iowa City Public Library. The evolution of this Board’s philosophy of governance, and the resulting documents, is detailed at <http://www.uiowa.edu/~cyberlaw/governance>.)
4. Without going into detail, Iowa Code Sec. 285.1 imposes minimum, but no maximum, requirements on Iowa school districts regarding the busing of students. The requirement, in brief, is that any student living over two miles from school must be offered transportation by school bus. See Appendix C.
5. Former Board policies are no
longer in force unless they are a policy required by state or federal law.
The formerly applicable Board policy is ICCSD Board Policy 702.1. It merely
declared that the District’s policy “shall be that which is required by
the State of Iowa” – namely, the two-mile limit. See Appendix D.
6. Former ICCSD Superintendents have created “Administrative Regulations” pursuant to the Board’s policies. The current Superintendent has not yet indicated which of these regulations he does, and does not, wish to treat as in effect. The prior policies relative to student transportation are found in Regulations 702.1, 702.1a, 702.1b and 702.1c. See Appendix E.
7. Jim Steffen, Director of Finance,
College Community School District, is quoted as saying, “We’ve always transported
100 percent of our students. If we restricted that by law [i.e.,
refused to bus any students within two miles], it would cut down the number
of students we bus, but we don’t feel that serves our patrons best.” Janet
Rorholm, “Busing Complaints Made Known,” The Iowa City Gazette,
Sept. 20, 2000, p. 5B.
8. Of course, the fact that the decision to bus an individual student or not is an administrative decision does not mean that the Board could not, if it chose, address student transportation as a policy matter and include it in either its governance or ends policies. It expressly does not do so at this time. However, this appeal raises some of the issues that this or future boards might wish to address:
9. Indeed that is the reason why the Board has taken the somewhat unprecedented course of "deciding" this appeal at the same meeting at which it was presented, September 26, 2000. Its usual practice would be to postpone a decision until the supporting opinion is available for release.
10. Iowa school districts are provided no earmarked, special funding for school bus transportation. The District estimates that each additional bus costs approximately $27,000 a year (in 1999-2000). This is money that is then not available for teachers, supplies, and other expenses. When safety requires busing it is money well spent and a sacrifice worth making. When parents can provide the transportation, or walking and biking are feasible for students, the loss of needed funds spent on unnecessary busing is a high price to pay.
The fact is that in any school district the safest place most children can be is in school. Far fewer accidents occur there than in homes or on the streets. But no school district is expected to guarantee the total safety of 100 percent of its students 100 percent of the time. It is not required legally, and could not be achieved administratively – however much school administrators and staff may strive for that result.
11. Obviously, “unsafe” is a concept that requires the Board to weigh the specific facts before it in a given case. No general rule can be provided. Nor can future cases be decided in advance.
However, by way of specific example, this Board probably would not find to be a “condition” that was “unsafe” the fact, taken alone, that students were required to walk along a path or trail primarily used for recreational purposes, or that a sidewalk had puddles on it after a rain, or that students were required to cross a road (perhaps with a light, stop sign or crossing guard), or even a railroad track. The Board wishes to emphasize that it is the combination of factors, the sum total of all the objections to the Golfview route, taken together, that have led it to the conclusion that it is “unsafe.” It is highly unlikely that any single factor, of the many involved in this case, would constitute the basis for a finding of an “unsafe” condition in the future.
12. Although it may be that few, if any, five-year-olds are in fact walking two miles to school, we cannot avoid the reality that the previous Board’s policy, as written, would require them to do so – as does the Superintendent’s decision that is the subject of this appeal.
13. The Superintendent has used the figure of 1.9 miles. Depending on where the starting and ending points are, and whether the measure is along roads (as seems to be required by Iowa law, see Appendix C, Iowa Code Sec. 285.1 (9)) or the walking/biking route, the distance can exceed 2.0 miles. Iowa law mandates busing for students beyond 2.0 miles. See Appendix C. For purposes of this appeal the Board does not rely on Iowa law and makes no assertion regarding its possible violation (which would raise other "executive limitations" issues). Nor does it wish to quibble over tenths of a mile. It simply notes that the distance is substantial – indeed so substantial that the Iowa legislature has found distances of approximately this length to require busing as a matter of law.
14. A sidewalk is normally in front of homes, or is at least adjacent to a road. A recreational path, by contrast, is deliberately designed to be as far away from homes and roads as possible.
Sidewalks, therefore, usually receive some illumination from streetlights and residential lighting. Recreational paths would, normally, not be lit.
Sidewalks are in the open, and clearly visible. Recreational paths are purposefully planned to run through woods and along streams.
"Our recreation trail was never designed to be a public sidewalk. No lighting is provided. . . . No winter maintenance is planned. It is a nature trail. (emphasis in original) . . ..” Letter from former North Liberty City Council member De Anna Lear to "School Board Members," September 15, 2000.
15. "[O]ccasionally, some students use the [CRANDIC] railroad tracks as a 'short-cut.' This is not only trespassing, but more importantly, VERY dangerous." Letter from North Liberty City Council member William E. Dorst to Dr. Lane Plugge, September 14, 2000.
16. "You know that fence? The fence that is suppose to separate the tracks from the trail, well it doesn't even go all the way down. And there are openings with trails between them.” Letter from Annette Yeggy to "School Board," undated.
17. “And what about them cement tunnels that go under the tracks." Letter from Annette Yeggy to "School Board," undated.
“And then we have the culverts! There is direct access to them and guess what? They go under the railroad tracks to the other side. How enchanting – no matter what age the child is!” Letter from Julie Davis to “To Whom it May Concern,” September 18, 2000.
18. Unsigned, undated document contains distance measurements and concludes, "The figures show that about 1,900 feet of trail, or more than a third of a mile, is in an secluded area where there is little or no access to safety. Of that 1,900 feet, 739 feet are posted as Watch for Water Over Trail."
19. The condition is not similar to one of “puddles” on a sidewalk. The stream goes out of its banks and literally “flows over” the path.
20. Estimates of the depth of the water on the trail vary from one inch to “hip deep” on a small child. We need make no fact finding with regard to the depth of the water, but find credible the “six inches” estimate of the Chief of Police. Letter from Chief James Warkentin, North Liberty Police Department, to Dr. Lane Plugge, Sept. 13, 2000.
21. "Different parts of the trail have been under water with at least six inches rain and mud, which made it impossible for me to walk down the trail at that time." Letter from Chief James Warkentin, North Liberty Police Department, to Dr. Lane Plugge, Sept. 13, 2000.
22. “How would the Emergency Medical Service get to a pedestrian who has been injured if there was deep snow and ice on the trail? There will always be ice on the lower part of the trail along the creek.” Letter from Bicyclists of Iowa City member Steve Rudin to "To Whom It May Concern," September 15, 2000.
23. "There are 'blind' corners along [the route] that are a major concern because a bicyclists can not see around the corner and the likelihood of a bike/pedestrian accident with a child is very probable." Letter from Bicyclists of Iowa City member Steve Rudin to "To Whom It May Concern," September 15, 2000.
24. "The bike trail does not have snow removal during the winter months because it is designated as a recreational trail for cross country skiing." Letter from North Liberty City Council member Ron Bandy to Dr. Lane Plugge, September 15, 2000.
"I have my doubts that the city will be able to properly keep the trail open during the winter snow season to make it accessible to children going to school." Letter from Bicyclists of Iowa City member Steve Rudin to "To Whom It May Concern," September 15, 2000.
25. One mother reports that her eight-year-old son says to her, “Mommy, I am scared to death to take the bike trail. I am just afraid of it.” Letter from Mollie S. Oakes to “Members of the School Board,” September 19, 2000.
26. With the possible exception
of our one Board member who is a M.D., the Board claims no expertise with
regard to the medical condition called “anxiety disorder.” Nor does it
believe the newspaper supplement USA Weekend to be the leading academic
journal dealing with the subject. It does note, however, that an article
in a recent issue claims that “Anxiety disorders are the No. 1 mental health
problem in the United States, affecting at least 19 million people ages
18 to 54 each year, or 13% of adults, according to the National Institute
of Mental Health . . . [and] is also the leading mental health problem
among . . . youngsters ages 9 to 17.” Mary Ellin Lerner, “Fall Health Report:
Facing Your Fear,” USA Weekend, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2000, p. 8.
27. "It is too secluded and right by the railroad tracks. Hello! Psychos are everywhere." Letter from [unknown; name cut off machine copy] to "Members of the School Board," September 19, 2000.
28. Indeed, Board members have been informed that there are a significant number of adult women in North Liberty – including teachers at Penn – who are fearful of being alone along the very route these children have been asked to walk each school day.
29. "Maybe it is because I have worked with criminals (especially sex offenders), but we are just asking for trouble if we force our children to walk alone along this isolated path." Letter from [unknown; appears to be first page only of a multi-page letter] to "Iowa City School Board," undated.
30. Letter from Chief James Warkentin, North Liberty Police Department, to Dr. Lane Plugge, Sept. 13, 2000. "[S]ubject was placed under arrest on the North Liberty Bike Trail for public intoxication."
31. "My own daughter and three other girls were back by the trail playing. A man came off the tracks, called to the girls to come over to him. Walking towards them saying he needed some help. He need to show them something. When he got close enough the girls seen, he had his penis out of his pants. Thank God all four girls ran for there life. I knew the girls well. I could tell they were very scared when they got back. I called the law right away. A policeman came out. He said he could not find any man around there. He told me not to let my children play down there. . . . Since then a mother and a daughter were walking on the bike trail. Both of them were raped, by two men. They chose not to report this. All though we don't know who they are it is a well known story with in the court." Letter from Annette Yeggy to "School Board," undated.
32. See, e.g., March 20, 2000, Memorandum [From: Jim Behle, Associate Superintendent, ICCSD/ To: Parents/ Re: Press Release – Iowa Sex Offender Registry] (regarding a Coralville resident; the memo and attachment are included as an attachment to appellants' appeal).
33. One of the letters we have been presented, from an executive of that railroad, explains that while his trains do run on tracks they do not run on schedules. The "schedule is dependent on our customers' needs . . .. There is no set schedule. Trains may run at any time on any day." Letter from CRANDIC Agent Scott Whiting to Dee Carter, September 19, 2000. Needless to say, this further complicates the task of insuring the safety of those students who walk or bike to school and must cross the tracks.
34. In fairness to the District administration, it should be noted that this was not the result of a mean-spirited or arbitrary decision. There had been a change during the intervening years. Namely, the recreational path had been built. It now provided an alternative, possibly within the two-mile limit, to walking along Highway 965. It is not unprecedented to modify bus routes and service when safe walking/biking routes become available. Obviously, the Superintendent believed the route to be safe.
Golfview Busing Issue
Dear Dr. Plugge,
We the residentes of Golfview Mobil Home park ask that this Policy Appeal be put on the agenda for the September 26th meeting
Appeal to the Board of Superintendent's Golfview Bussing
September 20, 2000
We the parents of Penn students who live in the Golfview Mobil Home Court would like to Appeal the decision of the Superintendent Dr. Lane Plugge in April 2000 on the issue of busing the Golfview children to Penn Elementary School.
We understand that we need to show you some policy that's a board policy that he has violated with his decision. Your Appeals process says that you won't look at his decisions "unless they raise a significant issue of Board policy."
We think his decision does.
As we see it, your policy you call "positive stakeholder relations" says that "with respect to interactions with stakkeholders, the Superintendent shall naot cause or allow conditions, procedures or decisoins that are unsafe." (And then it goes on to say some other things. This is the second one of what you call executive limitations.)
The dictionaries definition of Hazardous is 1) Dangerous, Risky or Perilous 2) Dependant on chance. We are convinced that there are enough reasons for concern to warrant the board finding that not providing these kids buses is a violation of the board's policy about unsafe conditions, procedures or decisions.
Our first issue is the parts on the trail that flood over when it rains, then the mud and debris that is left behind when it recedes.
Our second issue is the isolation of the trail that restricts the children's access to any kind of help should they be approached by a stranger or a bully. One of the reasons a recreational trail is different from a sidewalk is that you want to put it as far away from homes and streets as possible. That's why this trail goes through woods, streams and by overgrown areas. The very thing that makes it good for recreation makes it inappropriate as a path for school children. (As one of our attached letters, the one from the police chief, shows, there has been an arrest of an intoxicated man on that trail.)
Our third issue is the railroad tracks. Crandic Railroad states that they cannot guarantee that there will not be trains running during the times that the children are going to and from school.
Part of what makes this appeal confusing is that there are three levels of policies. The new board policies, the old book of board policies, and the administrative regulation notebook.
Each says something about "safety."
The old board policy says that "where safety conditions warrant, school bus transportation service will be provided."
The administrative rules talk about some provision of Iowa law that it looks like says that "the Board may provide or be required to provide transportation for resident students where it has been determined that hazardous conditions exist."
We also noticed that it also says that "distance to school is to be measured on the public highway only." We think that by the highway the distance is probably over 2 miles for many students living in Golfview.
It also says that the "age of student" and "railroad crossing" and "roadway crossings" are "criteria for determining hazardous conditions."
We guess the Superintendent has probably considered all of these factors and decided against us. And from what your appeals process seems to say we can't get you to second guess him.
But as we see it, you don't have to decide that he made the wrong decision under the old board policies and administrative standards that are applicable to him and that he considered - although we, of course, think he did, and you may think that, too.
We understand that's not what you want to look at. But you don't have to.
All you have to do is look at your own most recent policy, that executive limitation that refers to unsafe conditions or decisions.
Whether THAT policy was violated, what you meant by YOUR use of the word "unsafe" is for you and you alone to decide. You're not second guessing, or micromanaging HIS decision, you are interpreting what YOU, the Board, meant when you wrote that executive limitation.
At least that's the way we see it, and for our children's sake we hope you do, too.
We have attached letters from others who are also concerned. We parents are not the only people concerned about this issue.
The Board benefits from, and seeks, communication from the district's stakeholders on any and all subjects of concern.
Opportunities include presentations at the "Open Discussion" portions of regular Board meetings as well as the special community forum Board meetings in the schools expressly for that purpose. Individual Board members may also be contacted by e-mail, phone, letter or in person.
However, the Board's primary responsibility to the communities it serves requires that it devote most of its time and thought to district policy, long range planning, and goals.
For this reason, as well as sound administrative relations between the Board and Superintendent, the Board has delegated to the Superintendent the authority to administer the District consistent with its policies. This includes the Superintendent’s responsibility to investigate and resolve any disputes involving district stakeholders' disagreements with administrative decisions.
This Board practice in no way limits the opportunity of District stakeholders to present their concerns to the Board in the ways indicated above. Indeed, to repeat, such communications are one of many useful ways Board members have of learning about what's going on within the District. Moreover, such communications may motivate the Board to initiate a review of its policies, or take such communications into account when it evaluates the Superintendent's performance.
However, stakeholders should be aware that, with extremely rare exceptions, the Board will most likely not involve itself with a review of administrative actions or the Superintendent's resolution of administrative disputes -- unless they raise a significant issue of Board policy. A policy issue might be involved because of (a) inconsistency between an administrative decision and clear Board policy, (b) the need for a repeal or revision of a Board policy, or (c) the need for a new Board policy.
Thus, in the event a stakeholder does wish to propose that the Board address, and resolve, an appeal from a decision of the Superintendent, the following procedure will be the most helpful for Board and stakeholder alike:
1. Prepare a written statement. One copy is enough. Legible handwriting is adequate. Try to limit it to one page.
2. Provide your name, address, phone, and the date.
3. Briefly state the nature and history of your concern or complaint, including your efforts to have it resolved administratively.
4. To the best of your ability explain why you believe your concern involves a significant issue of Board policy.
The Board's policies are available at the Central Administrative Office, the Iowa City Public Library, the media resource centers in the schools, and on the Web.
One or more Board members may be able to detect the policy issues involved from your statement. So you may request a hearing without first having researched the Board's policies. But it will serve your interest to do so, because this portion of your presentation is the most important in persuading the Board to hear your policy appeal.
5. Deliver your statement to the Board Secretary at the district Central Administration Office. He or she will prepare a copy of if for each Board member and include it with the agenda materials for the next regular Board meeting.
6. Each Board member will make an individual judgment as to whether he or she believes the policy issue involved is of sufficient significance to warrant the meeting time required for a formal Board hearing.
7. If three of the seven Board members vote to hold a hearing you will be notified of your opportunity to appear before the Board at its next meeting.
(Although three is not a majority of seven, the Board believes if as many as three members think a hearing should be held that the issue is sufficiently important to warrant its being addressed.)
8. If your policy appeal involves an administrative decision please note that a Board member's vote for a hearing is not an expression that the decision was a violation of policy -- only that a hearing should be held on the issue. Similarly, a Board member's failure to vote for a hearing is not a vote supporting the decision (although that may be its effect so far as you are concerned). It is simply his or her judgment that, whether or not it is what they would have decided were they the Superintendent, it was a decision within the Superintendent's administrative discretion.
9. If a hearing is held, the Board will later issue a reasoned statement of its conclusions regarding the policy issues involved.
285.1 When entitled to state aid.
1. The board of directors in every school district shall provide transportation, either directly or by reimbursement for transportation, for all resident pupils attending public school, kindergarten through twelfth grade, except that:
a. Elementary pupils shall be entitled to transportation only if they live more than two miles from the school designated for attendance.For the purposes of this subsection, high school means a school which commences with either grade nine or grade ten, as determined by the board of directors of the school district or by the governing authority of the nonpublic school in the case of nonpublic schools.
b. High school pupils shall be entitled to transportation only if they live more than three miles from the school designated for attendance.
c. Children attending prekindergarten programs offered or sponsored by the district or nonpublic school and approved by the department of education or department of human services may be provided transportation services. However, transportation services provided nonpublic school children are not eligible for reimbursement under this chapter.
d. Districts are not required to maintain seating space on school buses for students who are otherwise to be provided transportation under this subsection if the students do not or will not regularly utilize the district's transportation service for extended periods during the school year. The student, or the student's parent or legal guardian if the student is less than eighteen years of age, shall be notified by the district before transportation services may be suspended, and the suspension may continue until the student, or the student's parent or legal guardian, notifies the district that regular student ridership will continue.
Boards in their discretion may provide transportation for some or all resident pupils attending public school or pupils who attend nonpublic schools who are not entitled to transportation. Boards in their discretion may collect from the parent or guardian of the pupil not more than the pro rata cost for such optional transportation, determined as provided in subsection 12.
2. Any pupil may be required to meet a school bus on the approved route a distance of not to exceed three-fourths of a mile without reimbursement.
3. In a district where transportation by school bus is impracticable, where necessary to implement a whole grade sharing agreement under section 282.10, or where school bus service is not available, the board may require parents or guardians to furnish transportation for their children to the schools designated for attendance. Except as provided in section 285.3, the parent or guardian shall be reimbursed for such transportation service for public and nonpublic school pupils by the board of the resident district in an amount equal to eighty dollars plus seventy-five percent of the difference between eighty dollars and the previous school year's statewide average per pupil transportation cost, as determined by the department of education.
However, a parent or guardian shall not receive reimbursement for furnishing transportation for more than three family members who attend elementary school and one family member who attends high school.
4. In all districts where unsatisfactory roads or other conditions make it advisable, the board at its discretion may require the parents or guardians of public and nonpublic school pupils to furnish transportation for their children up to two miles to connect with vehicles of transportation. The parents or guardians shall be reimbursed for such transportation by the boards of the resident districts at the rate of twenty-eight cents per mile per day, one way, per family for the distance from the pupil's residence to the bus route.
5. Where transportation by school bus is impracticable or not available or other existing conditions warrant it, arrangements may be made for use of common carriers according to uniform standards established by the director of the department of education and at a cost based upon the actual cost of service and approved by the board.
6. When the school designated for attendance of pupils is engaged in the transportation of pupils, the sending or designating school shall use these facilities and pay the pro rata cost of transportation except that a district sending pupils to another school may make other arrangements when it can be shown that such arrangements will be more efficient and economical than to use facilities of the receiving school, providing such arrangements are approved by the board of the area education agency.
7. If a local board closes either elementary or high school facilities and is approved by the board of the area education agency to operate its own transportation equipment, the full cost of transportation shall be paid by the board for all pupils living beyond the statutory walking distance from the school designated for attendance.
8. Transportation service may be suspended upon any day or days, due to inclemency of the weather, conditions of roads, or the existence of other conditions, by the board of the school district operating the buses, when in their judgment it is deemed advisable and when the school or schools are closed to all children.
9. Distance to school or to a bus route shall in all cases be measured on the public highway only and over the most passable and safest route as determined by the area education agency board, starting in the roadway opposite the private entrance to the residence of the pupil and ending in the roadway opposite the entrance to the school grounds or designated point on bus route.
10. The board in any district providing transportation for nonresident pupils shall collect the pro rata cost of transportation from the district of pupil's residence for all properly designated pupils so transported.
11. Boards in districts operating buses may transport nonresident pupils who attend public school, kindergarten through junior college, who are not entitled to free transportation provided they collect the pro rata cost of transportation from the parents.
12. The pro rata cost of transportation shall be based upon the actual cost for all the children transported in all school buses. It shall include one-seventh of the original net cost of the bus and other items as determined and approved by the director of the department of education but no part of the capital outlay cost for school buses and transportation equipment for which the school district is reimbursed from state funds or that portion of the cost of the operation of a school bus used in transporting pupils to and from extra-curricular activities shall be included in determining the pro rata cost. In a district where, because of unusual conditions, the cost of transportation is in excess of the actual operating cost of the bus route used to furnish transportation to nonresident pupils, the board of the local district may charge a cost equal to the cost of other schools supplying such service to that area, upon receiving approval of the director of the department of education.
13. When a local board fails to pay transportation costs due to another school for transportation service rendered, the board of the creditor corporation shall file a sworn statement with the area education agency board specifying the amount due. The agency board shall check such claim and if the claim is valid shall certify to the county auditor. The auditor shall transmit to the county treasurer an order directing the county treasurer to transfer the amount of such claim from the funds of the debtor corporation to the creditor corporation and the treasurer shall pay the same accordingly.
14. Resident pupils attending a nonpublic school located either within or without the school district of the pupil's residence shall be entitled to transportation on the same basis as provided for resident public school pupils under this section. The public school district providing transportation to a nonpublic school pupil shall determine the days on which bus service is provided, which shall be based upon the days for which bus service is provided to public school pupils, and the public school district shall determine bus schedules and routes. In the case of nonpublic school pupils the term "school designated for attendance" means the nonpublic school which is designated for attendance by the parents of the nonpublic school pupil.
15. If the nonpublic school designated for attendance is located within the public school district in which the pupil is a resident, the pupil shall be transported to the nonpublic school designated for attendance as provided in this section.
a. If the nonpublic school designated for attendance of a pupil is located outside the boundary line of the school district of the pupil's residence, the pupil may be transported by the district of residence to a public school or other location within the district of the pupil's residence. A public school district in which a nonpublic school is located may establish school bus collection locations within its district from which nonresident nonpublic school pupils may be transported to and from a nonpublic school located in the district. If a pupil receives such transportation, the district of the pupil's residence shall be relieved of any requirement to provide transportation.17. The public school district may meet the requirements of subsections 14 to 16 by any of the following:
b. As an alternative to paragraph "a" of this subsection, subject to section 285.9, subsection 3, where practicable, and at the option of the public school district in which a nonpublic school pupil resides, the school district may transport a nonpublic school pupil to a nonpublic school located outside the boundary lines of the public school district if the nonpublic school is located in a school district contiguous to the school district which is transporting the nonpublic school pupils, or may contract with the contiguous public school district in which a nonpublic school is located for the contiguous school district to transport the nonpublic school pupils to the nonpublic school of attendance within the boundary lines of the contiguous school district.
c. If the nonpublic school designated for attendance of a pupil is located outside the boundary line of the school district of the pupil's residence and the district of residence meets the requirements of subsections 14 to 16 of this section by using subsection 17, paragraph "c", of this section and the district in which the nonpublic school is located is contiguous to the district of the pupil's residence and is willing to provide transportation under subsection 17, paragraph "a" or "b", of this section, the district in which the nonpublic school is located may provide transportation services, subject to section 285.9, subsection 3, and may make the claim for reimbursement under section 285.2. The district in which the nonpublic school is located shall notify the district of the pupil's residence that it is making the claim for reimbursement, and the district of the pupil's residence shall be relieved of the requirement for providing transportation and shall not make a claim for reimbursement for those nonpublic school pupils for which a claim is filed by the district in which the nonpublic school is located.
a. Transportation in a school bus operated by a public school district.18. The director of the department of education may review all transportation arrangements to see that they meet all legal and established uniform standard requirements.
b. Contracting with private parties as provided in section 285.5. However, contracts shall not provide payment in excess of the average per pupil transportation costs of the school district for that year.
c. Utilizing the transportation reimbursement provision of subsection 3.
d. Contracting with a contiguous public school district to transport resident nonpublic school pupils the entire distance from the nonpublic pupil's residence to the nonpublic school located in the contiguous public school district or from the boundary line of the public school district to the nonpublic school.
19. Transportation authorized by this chapter is exempt from all laws of this state regulating common carriers.
20. Transportation for which the pro rata cost or other charge is collected shall not be provided outside the state of Iowa except in accordance with rules adopted by the department of education in accordance with chapter 17A. The rules shall take into account any applicable federal requirements.
21. Boards in districts operating buses may in their discretion transport senior citizens, children, persons with disabilities, and other persons and groups, who are not otherwise entitled to free transportation, and shall collect the pro rata cost of transportation. Transportation under this subsection shall not be provided when the school bus is being used to transport pupils to or from school unless the board determines that such transportation is desirable and will not interfere with or delay the transportation of pupils.
22. Notwithstanding subsection 1, paragraph "a", a parent or guardian of an elementary pupil entitled to transportation pursuant to subsection 1, may request that a child day care facility be designated for purposes of subsection 9 rather than the residence of the pupil. The request shall be submitted for a period of time of at least one semester and may not be submitted more than twice during a school year.
The pupil transportation policy of the Iowa City Community School District shall be that which is required by the State of Iowa, Code Section 285.1, i.e., (a) Students in grades K-8 shall be entitled to transportation only if they live more than two miles from the school designated for attendance, and (b) Students in grades 9-12 shall be entitled to transportation only if they live more than three miles from the school designated for attendance. Students who have transferred from their originally assigned attendance center are not entitled to transportation.
Exceptions will be made for those children requiring special education.
An elementary student entitled to transportation as set out in paragraph 1, may be transported to and/or from a child care provider within the student’s attendance area upon request of the parent or guardian. The request shall be submitted for a period of time of at least one semester and may not be submitted more than twice during a school year. The specified child care provider must be located more than two miles from the student’s originally assigned attendance center.
The Board of Directors of the Iowa City Community School District shall provide transportation services to nonpublic school pupils as provided in Section 285.1 of the Code only during school years when the General Assembly has appropriated funds to the Department of Education for payment of claims for transportation costs submitted by the school district.
In situations where transportation by school bus is impassable or where school bus service is not available, parents or guardians may be required to transport their children to the public or nonpublic school designated for attendance, the parent or guardian to be reimbursed for such transportation service as specified in Chapter 285, Code of Iowa.
Under special circumstances, as determined by the Executive Director of Administrative Service, taxi service may be used for transporting children to and from school and/or to and from special programs.
In situations where safety conditions warrant, school bus transportation service will be provided.
Determining Eligibility for Student Transportation, AR 702.1
Chapter 285.1, Code of Iowa, outlines the eligibility requirements for student transportation. In summary, they are:
1. Resident students in grades K-8 are entitled to transportation
or reimbursement for transportation if they live more than two (2) miles
from their designated school.
2. Resident students in grades 9-12 are entitled to transportation or reimbursement for transportation if they live more than three (3) miles from their designated school.
3. The Board has the discretion to provide transportation for resident students who are not entitled to transportation.
4. The Board may provide or be required to provide transportation for resident students where it has been determined that hazardous conditions exist.
5. The Board may collect from the parent or guardian of the pupil up to the pro rata cost for transportation provided in accordance with #3 and #4 above.
6. Distance to school is to be measured on the public highway only and over the most passable and safest route.
Criteria for Route Measurement
When measuring distance to determine eligibility for transportation, such distance shall be measured by using the shortest distance on public roads only. In determining the shortest distance, the following conditions shall be avoided:
1. Any part of the interstate highway system restricted
solely to vehicular traffic.
2. Any bridge or viaduct on which a posted weight embargo prohibits school bus traffic.
Criteria for Determining Hazardous Conditions
The following criteria shall be utilized in the determination of hazardous conditions:
1. The existence of an intersection where law enforcement
officials will not permit the use of crossing guards.
2. The existence of a bridge or viaduct where there are not limited provisions for pedestrian walkways.
3. Age of student.
4. Rural, suburban, or urban areas. Railroad crossing:
-main line or switch area
-number of tracks
-speed of trains
-time schedule for trains
- walking parallel:
-adequacy of sidewalks or walkways
-width of shoulder if used for walking
-adequacy of walkways on bridges or through underpasses
-obstructions to pedestrian traffic
7. Roadway - crossings:
- number of lanes, speed limits, and traffic volume and patterns
-visibility at crossing
-traffic control devices
-availability of crossing guards
The purpose of the committee shall be to determine eligibility for transportation when there are issues involving distance measurement and/or existence of hazardous conditions.
Members of the committee shall consist of. Equity Coordinator, a principal appointed by the superintendent, and the Executive Director of Administrative Services.
The duties of the committee shall include the following:
1. Determine the "most passable and safest route"' upon
2. Assess criteria for hazardous conditions.
3. Recommend transportation to areas where the committee determines hazardous conditions exist.
4. Recommend changes or adjustments in the transportation entitlement program.
Any decision of the committee regarding distance measurement
and hazardous 77 conditions shall be subject to appeal to the Board of
Bus Routes and Stops, AR 702.1a
1. A student's home address will determine whether or not a student is eligible for transportation.
2. All bus routes will be determined by Iowa City Coach Company and the school district administration and formally approved by the Board of Education.
3. Students will be assigned to a bus route based on their home address.
4. Assigned stops for each bus route will be determined by Iowa City Coach Company and the school district administration.
5. Students will be transported only on the route to which they have been assigned unless special alternate route requests have been made with the school district transportation department in accordance with Administrative
6. Only those students assigned to the bus route will be transported.
7. Students will be picked up and dropped off at their assigned stop only.
8. The assigned stop will be the same stop both a.m. and
p.m. except where special arrangements have been made for a child to be
picked up or dropped off, on a permanent basis.
Alternate Route Assignments, AR 702.1b
The district transportation program has been designed to provide transportation services for those students in the district eligible for transportation. Administrative Regulation 702.1a provides the guidelines used by the district for establishing bus routes and stops.
In order to accommodate special needs within the community, exceptions to an individual's assigned bus route and stop will be made under the following circumstances:
1. Student is eligible for transportation
2. The requested stop is located in an area eligible for transportation from the student's assigned attendance center.
3. The requested change is for a period of time of at least one semester and a change may not be submitted more than twice during the school year.
In order for an exception to be granted an application must be completed by the parent or guardian and approved by the Executive Director of Administrative Services.
Discretionary Student Transportation, AR 702.1c
Fees for transportation services shall be charged when students in grades 7-12 do not live the required distance from school and when it is determined in accord with Administrative Regulation 702.1 that transportation is justified.
The fee charged shall be based on the pro rata cost per pupil, computed annually by state formula. The base fees shall be 50 percent of the pro rata cost per pupil, rounded to the nearest dollar, for the first student in a family, and 37 1/2 per cent of the pro rata cost per pupil, rounded to the nearest dollar, for the second student in a family. There shall be no charge for any additional students in a family.
Transportation passes may be purchased on a yearly, semester, or trimester basis, according to the following schedule:
Yearly - Payment of fee by September 15
Semester - Payment of fee by September 15 and February 1
Trimester - Payment of fee by September 15, December 10 and March 10
A student in residence at the beginning of each semester or trimester shall be required to pay for a full semester or trimester even if the student elects to receive transportation after the semester or trimester begins. A student who moves in or out of an eligible area will be charged or receive a refund on a pro rata basis according to the amount of transportation provided.
Payments shall be made in person or mailed to the Transportation Department, 509 28 S. Dubuque Street, after which the student will be issued a nontransferable pass.
No refunds or rate adjustments shall be made for days buses cannot operate because of weather or other circumstances beyond the control of the district. Extenuating circumstances, such as extended illness, shall be considered on an individual basis.
Students covered under this regulation shall receive the 'same service offered other transported students, and shall be governed by the same rules of conduct.