Opinion of the Board
Petition denied, April 25, 2000
Opinion released, May 2, 2000
Opinion of the Board
Facts, Background and Supporting DocumentsAppendix A: Petitioners' "Petition for School Board Review" and "Iowa City High School Tennis Court Lights Timeline of Key Events and Communications," March 10, 2000
City of Iowa City Light Ordinance
Petition for School Board ReviewAppendix B: Superintendent Lane Plugge's Statement, "City High Tennis Court Lights," March 13, 2000
Timeline of Key Events and Communications
Appendix C: "ICCSD Board Policy Appeals Process," March 28, 2000
The ICCSD School Board’s governance policies attempt to identify those decisions and activities that are properly the function of the Board (such as policy, long range planning and goals). The policies also describe those functions that should be left to the Superintendent (the administration and management of the District in a manner consistent with those goals and policy).
While this clarifies the relationship between the Board and Superintendent, it leaves open the question of how citizens should proceed if they do not like a Superintendent’s decision. When can they “appeal” to the Board and when not?
To clarify, the Board prepared and issued a “Board Policy Appeals Process.” It states that, in general, the Board will not hear an appeal from a Superintendent’s administrative decision unless it clearly violates Board policy.
The first appeal to arise involves a controversy between the Superintendent and Iowa City residents whose property borders on City High. The residents complain that the high school’s tennis court lights are intrusive.
As with any policy, it is the decisions taken under it that are often even more revealing of its meaning than the language itself. So it is in this case. For that reason, the Board has taken the step of issuing this opinion explaining its reasons for denying a hearing in this case. It is hoped that the policy, along with this opinion, will provide useful guidance to future Boards and citizen petitioners.
In short, in this instance the Board acknowledges each of the policy arguments raised by the residents, but after analysis finds that they either are inapplicable to the facts involved in this controversy or have been complied with by the Superintendent.
Robert S. Olick, on behalf of himself and “residents of Dunlap Court and Third Avenue” (Petitioners), requests “that the Iowa City School Board review Superintendent Plugge’s March 13, 2000, response to issues surrounding the Iowa City High School tennis lights . . ..” Board members received his petition on April 10, 2000. It is attached as Appendix A. Superintendent Plugge’s statement is attached as Appendix B. It was in response to President Goodlaxson’s statement at the Board meeting of February 8, 2000, that further concerns regarding the tennis lights controversy “will be an administrative decision handled by Dr. Plugge.” ICCSD School Board Minutes, February 8, 2000.
This matter comes before the Board as the first appeal filed under the “ICCSD Board Policy Appeals Process” adopted by the Board March 28, 2000, and attached as Appendix C. That policy anticipates the circumstances in which the Board will issue opinions explaining its decisions. (“9. If a hearing is held, the Board will later issue a reasoned statement of its conclusions regarding the policy issues involved.”)
Under the terms of the appeals policy Petitioners’ request for a hearing failed for want of the necessary three votes of Board members at its meeting April 25, 2000. Thus, the appeals policy does not require the “reasoned statement of its conclusions” in this instance. The Board does not intend to issue such statements in the future when hearing requests are denied – and certainly not statements of this length.
Nonetheless, the Board believes it is especially appropriate in this, its first case under the policy, to explain fully the reasons for the policy as well as its reasoning in this case – which may be illustrative of its approach to future appeals. It can thereby provide guidance to future Board members as well as petitioners.
The policy recites the Board’s desire, and the numerous opportunities it offers, to hear the concerns of its stakeholders. However, the heart of the policy is contained in the following paragraph:
[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.ICCSD Board Policy Appeals Process, March 28, 2000, Prologue.
Thus, while the Board will listen to almost anything a stakeholder wishes to present, it will normally limit its actions to matters involving Board policy.
The petition before us does not involve a (1) proposed new policy, or a request that an existing policy be (2) revised or (3) repealed. By process of elimination, therefore, we are treating it as limited to Petitioners’ argument that an administrative action of the Superintendent is so inconsistent with “clear Board policy” as to require Board review, and reversal, of a decision or action of the Superintendent.
Given the policies cited by Petitioner, and the circumstances of this case, the Board is unable to find an inconsistency warranting its intervention.
This controversy has extended over sufficient time that it is now being considered by a superintendent, and three of seven board members, who were in no way involved in its beginnings. In part for that reason, the Board is disinclined to criticize the way the matter was handled by those who preceded it. Suffice it to note, however, that the way in which this matter was handled in the past has been the basis for at least two new policies created by the present Board.
This Board’s policies now include a statement that, in the future:
Stakeholder relations are improved by including affected parties in the District’s decision making process as early as possible. It includes, but is not limited to: an ongoing affirmative outreach to, and communication with, . . . those whose property borders on District property . . ..ICCSD School Board Policies, Board Governance Policies, Prologue, par. 14 (effective March 7, 2000).
Moreover, this controversy was also the impetus for the creation of the very Policy Appeals Process under which it has now come before us.
Of course, the Board recognizes that it inherits responsibility for the actions of its predecessors. But the issue before us is Petitioners’ suggestion that the Superintendent, who has served the District since August 15, 1999, has violated Board policies applicable at the time of his decisions.
We are not unsympathetic to Petitioners’ concerns. We acknowledge – indeed, some of us have experienced – that external light entering one’s home can be an annoyance. And in “Future Action,” below, we indicate our assumption that the Superintendent and his delegatees will continue to monitor the situation and to balance the competing interests as additional experience, and technology, may suggest.
The task before us in this opinion, however, is limited. We will simply identify, and address, the policy arguments raised by Petitioners.
Petitioner’s first paragraph refers to the Board’s “Executive Limitations” Policies, and specifically the provision that forbids the Superintendent to allow “conditions . . . that are unsafe, undignified, unnecessarily intrusive, or that fail to provide appropriate confidentiality or privacy.” ICCSD School Board Policies, Executive Limitations, “Positive Stakeholder Relations,” Level 2a.
We believe it is clear both from the language quoted, and the context in which it is found, that it is inapplicable to this case. It focuses on matters of personal privacy and human dignity. This interpretation is supported by some of the more specific and supporting provisions found in Level 3a. Example 2 refers to “application forms that elicit information for which there is no clear necessity.” Example 3 refers to “methods of collecting, reviewing, transmitting, or storing client information that fail to protect against improper access to the material elicited.”
Petitioners have not suggested that their personal privacy has been compromised in these or similar ways. Their concern has been limited to the presence of the emitted light itself.
That being the case, we need not reach the question of whether the quantity of light provided on the tennis courts is either necessarily, or unnecessarily, “intrusive.” The policy relied upon by Petitioners is simply inapplicable in this circumstance.
Clearly some light is necessary to play tennis after dark. The amount of light originally planned was presumably thought “necessary” by someone at that time. That level of light has now been reduced (at least to some degree) by “light shields,” trees, hours of operation, an automatic timer – and, of course, the availability of such remedies as the use of blinds, shades, or dark curtains by Petitioners. Thus, were we to address the issue we would be disinclined to conclude – even if the policy were applicable – that the amount of light is “unnecessarily intrusive.”
Petitioners argue in their paragraph two that the existence of the lights, as now configured, violates a 1999 Iowa City light ordinance and, therefore, the Superintendent’s “Executive Limitations.”
Although we do not represent the following analysis to be a formal legal opinion on the subject, we believe Petitioners are in error.
The “Executive Limitations” provide that “the Superintendent shall not cause or allow any practice . . . that violates (a) any applicable and relevant requirements of the U.S. or Iowa Constitutions, laws, court decisions, administrative regulations and requirements . . ..” ICCSD School Board Policies, Executive Limitations, “Global Executive Limitations,” Level 1.
Although this language does not, literally, refer to municipal ordinances as such, we acknowledge that applicable Code provisions are certainly within the spirit if not the letter of the provision.
However, the City Attorney of the City of Iowa City informs us that neither of the potentially applicable Code provisions is in fact relevant in this case.
Although Petitioners do not cite specific Code provisions, the matter of lighting comes up in two contexts to which we presume they mean to refer.
One relates to zoning. Those provisions are found in City Code of Iowa City, Iowa (1994) (“Code”) Sec. 14-6S-8, subparagraphs a-d. However, the Code expressly identifies the Iowa City Community School District’s property as coming within “Zone P” (“P” for “public”). And Code Sec. 14-6I-1 provides that its purpose is to serve a notice function to those who acquire property in proximity to property zoned “P” that such property is not ordinarily subject to the zoning regulations.
We simply briefly note in this connection that while the District wants to be a good neighbor, there is reason for this provision of the zoning regulations. Anyone purchasing property that abuts school grounds, as Petitioners have, is legally bound to be aware that with that proximity goes both predictable and unpredictable intrusions, including a disproportionate number of young people in the neighborhood, increased traffic, athletic and other evening events, attendant noise – and lights. The light from the tennis courts is but one example.
The second context is that of site plan review design standards, Code Sec. 14-5H-5, and the June 15, 1999, site plan review design standards for exterior lighting. Code Sec. 14-5H-5(H).
We have not addressed whether Code Sec. 14-5H-5(H) would be applicable to future lighting projects on ICCSD property. But no such law or regulation would normally be applicable to projects begun before the law was enacted – unless the law contains an express provision precluding such “grandfathering.” In this case, Petitioners’ “Timeline,” included in the attached Appendix A, indicates that “construction underway” had occurred by the week of November 16, 1998. The ordinance in question was enacted June 15, 1999. Thus, it would not apply to this project.
Petitioners’ third paragraph refers to the District’s administrative regulations involving voluntary contributions to the ICCSD Foundation. Although not cited we presume Petitioners rely upon ICCSD Administrative Regulation 1004 (“Volunteer Contributions for Facilities, Equipment or Materials”).
Petitioners assert that had these administrative regulations been followed, including the development of a “feasibility study . . . the neighbors’ interests and concerns would have become known and should have been taken into account.”
We believe Petitioners are in error. However desirable such early consultation might have been – indeed this is the reason such consultation is now a part of the Board policy Prologue quoted above -- it is not mandated by the administrative regulation cited. That regulation’s language, and purpose, relate only to the financial viability of such projects and the procedure to be followed to ensure that they are well organized and executed.
The reference to a “feasibility study” is contained in “Step 4” of the requirements for “Fund raising groups with a project goal of $25,000 or more.” It mandates that,
The Foundation will then conduct a feasibility study that will approximate the degree of success for the campaign based upon competing campaigns in the community that will coincide with the proposed campaign timeline, funding goals, uses of funds, donor interest, and other relevant factors.It seems clear from this language that what is being evaluated for “feasibility” is primarily the likelihood of the funds being raised. Such an interpretation is consistent with the overall content of Administrative Regulation 1004, which is focused on fundraising generally rather than community relations as such.
Petitioners’ fourth paragraph refers to a general “code of conduct” requiring Board members to “represent the interests of all citizens in the district.” Although not cited, we presume this is a reference to ICCSD School Board Policies, Board Governance, “Code of Conduct,” Level 3d.
It provides, among other things, that “Board members should represent the interests of the citizens of the entire school district.”
But that is, of course, precisely what the Board, and Superintendent, have done.
Some of the “citizens of the entire school district” (including the City of Iowa City) wanted to contribute to a gift of tennis lights to the District. Other “citizens of the entire school district,” the Petitioners, objected either to the installation of any lights at all or to the manner in which they were installed and operated. The Board and Superintendent have endeavored to “represent the interests of the citizens of the entire school district.” In this instance, as is often the case, those interests diverge.
Petitioners have attached to their petition the “Timeline of Key Events and Communications” contained in Appendix A. It begins with their petition of November 22, 1998, and continues throughout the intervening months until this Petition received April 10, 2000. Petitioners do not like the decisions made during that time. That much is clear. But it is not the case that they have not been heard. They have been heard, and repeatedly -- by this Board, its predecessor, this Superintendent, and his predecessor -- during this roughly year-and-a-half. So have others who are also “citizens in the district” – citizens who do want the tennis courts to be lit.
Moreover, there have been numerous accommodations to Petitioners’ concerns, including the application of the light shields they requested, a reduction in the proposed months, and hours, during which the lights will be available, and the installation of a timing device.
There is simply no basis for a finding that the procedures followed in this case could be said to have violated the Board’s policies regarding the obligation of its members to “represent the interests of the citizens of the entire school district.”
Petitioners’ fifth paragraph refers to a June 8, 1999, Board decision to install a timing device on the lights. They assert that “this has never been done” and that “the Superintendent’s report states that this is still being investigated.” See Appendix B. They conclude, “If there is an ultimate principle of policy and governance it must be that what the board votes to do shall be faithfully implemented by the administration.”
Although not expressly stated as a policy, we cannot disagree with Petitioners’ final sentence.
However, when it comes to their conclusion Petitioners are in error. To the extent the Superintendent meant to suggest the absence of a timing device he may have been in error as well.
In fact, however, he does not use the word “investigation.” He says, “The district will seek out a more sophisticated on and off timing device. If one is found it will be installed and will provide better control . . ..” We need not, and do not, make a formal finding as to whether there is currently a timing device in place. We are informed by staff that there is, and the Superintendent’s reference to “a more sophisticated device” supports that conclusion.
The effort to seek out such a device does not indicate the Superintendent’s disregard of Board orders. It is, however, additional evidence of his continuing efforts to accommodate Petitioners.
We mentioned this Board’s reference to “stakeholder relations” earlier, in the context of the impact of this case on future policy. To repeat, this Board’s policies now include a statement that, in the future:
Stakeholder relations are improved by including affected parties in the District’s decision making process as early as possible. It includes, but is not limited to: an ongoing affirmative outreach to, and communication with, . . . those whose property borders on District property . . ..ICCSD School Board Policies, Board Governance Policies, “Prologue,” par. 14 (effective March 7, 2000).
Even though Petitioners have made no reference to it, to remove any possible ambiguity on the point, we will state briefly why this provision is inapplicable to the matter before us.
First, Petitioners made no reference to it. Thus, it is not formally before us. This conclusion is not binding, however, as we are free to, and desirous of, coming to equitable results, which include consideration of policies we know to be applicable even if not cited.
Second, the language -- to the extent it has formal force and effect – did not become applicable until March 7, 2000.
Third, because the language is contained in a “prologue” it is not “policy” as such. As the Prologue itself provides, “Although this prologue may assist in the interpretation of the policies, it does not modify them. Only the language of the policies constitutes Board policy.” ICCSD School Board Policies, Board Governance Policies, “Prologue,” par. 3. Normally, however, the Board would not rest its decision on such a distinction and we do not do so now.
Fourth, and decisive, it is too late. The actions mandated by this language, even if it were binding policy, needed to occur long prior to November 1998. Based on Petitioners’ allegations they did not; there were little or no efforts to involve Petitioners before the plans were made in the consideration of the tennis lights project. However regrettable there is nothing the current Superintendent can do, now, to involve Petitioners then. Moreover, even Petitioners’ “Timetable” acknowledges he has had at least some consultation with Petitioners since his arrival in August 1999.
We find no basis under our appeals policy for further review and reversal of any of the actions or decisions of the Superintendent regarding the tennis lights controversy on grounds he has violated express Board policies.
Having said that, we repeat that we are sympathetic to the concerns of Petitioners. We want the District to be viewed as a good neighbor by those who live near our school grounds. And we acknowledge this project has not been handled as well as it might have been from the beginning.
But we also believe that it is too late in the day to consider such imprudent actions as removing the lights entirely, or so masking their illumination as to eliminate their purpose. They are there. The City of Iowa City, and generous citizens, paid to put them there. The lighting company has assumed the cost of their modification. There must be limits to neighborly accommodation.
Within those limits, however, we simply assume that the Superintendent and his delegatees will continue to maintain a relationship of cooperation, conciliation, and common sense. Experience and experimentation may well suggest the acceptability of modifications in the standards regarding when the lights will be on. New timing devices or other technology may be helpful.
Those details, however, are “administration” not “policy.” We therefore leave them, as we leave the decisions brought before us by this appeal, to the Superintendent.
The Petition for Hearing is denied.
Appendix A: Petitioners’ “Petition for School Board Review” and
“Iowa City High School Tennis Court Lights Timeline of Key Events and Communications,”
March 10, 2000
Petition for School Board Review
Residents of Dunlap Court and Third Avenue request that the Iowa City School Board review Superintendent Plugge's March 13, 2000, response to issues surrounding the Iowa City High School tennis lights, and exercise its independent judgment to craft an acceptable resolution. A chronology of key events is attached for your convenience. Pursuant to the Board's rules, adopted March 28, 2000, and the board's invitation at the same meeting, the following identifies the several policy matters warranting the board's review and resolution.
1. The first principle of Positive Stakeholder Relations (Board Policy, Executive Limitations, adopted 23 November 1999) states that "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." The tennis lights cause substantial and unnecessary light pollution and trespass and disturb the privacy of our homes. Dr. Plugge's March 13 memorandum fails to provide the substantial abatement of the problem requested by the neighbors on 8 February 2000.
2. Board policy states that "the Superintendent shall not cause or allow any practice, activity, decision or organizational circumstance" that violates the law, including "administrative regulations and requirements" under Iowa law. In 1999, the City of Iowa City adopted a light ordinance expressly designed to control and abate light pollution and trespass. Among the ordinance's requirements are that poles should be not more than 25 feet high and that, all lights stronger than a 150-watt bulb be equipped to prevent direct light from failing beyond the property line. The tennis lights clearly do not comply with these (and other) requirements of these lighting standards.
3. Project approval and implementation violated the district's administrative regulations governing voluntary contributions to the community school district foundation and was without any public notice or participation whatsoever. Specifically, the regulations (as revised December 12, 1995) require fund raising groups with a project goal of $25,000 or more to subject the proposal to a far more rigorous and public process than was followed here, including a feasibility study. Documents in the district's files show that the anticipated cost for the project during the planning phase exceeded $50,000. Actual costs were well in excess of $25,000. Had the required process been followed, the neighbors' interests and concerns would have become known and should have been taken into account; indeed no reasonable feasibility study could exclude the impact on residents bordering the school grounds. Systematic exclusion of the neighbors' voices throughout the process and the abject failure to take the neighbors' interests into account -- despite warnings from Musco Lighting that there would be problems with glare and spill lighting - tainted the entire project. The conclusion that these lights do not belong on these courts is inescapable.
4. This board's code of conduct mandates that members represent the interests of all citizens in the district. It follows that the board should not support what amounts to a privately funded, recreational facility that benefits one group of citizens at the direct and immediate expense of another group of citizens.
5. The board voted on 8 June 1999, to install timing devices on the lights (this is not the on/off device currently in place). This has never been done. The Superintendent's report states that this is still being investigated. If there is an ultimate principle of policy and governance it must be that what the board votes to do shall be faithfully implemented by the administration.
Robert S. Olick
2002 Dunlap Court
On behalf of residents of Dunlap Court and Third Avenue
Timeline of Key Events and Communications
Nov. 16, 1998 Construction underway; neighbors become aware of project to install lights
Nov.22, 1998 Neighborhood petition expressing concern (12 signatures)
Nov.25, 1998 Petition delivered with letter to Mr. Palmer requesting a meeting
Dec. 3, 1998 Meeting at high school with many of the involved parties
Dec. 7, 1998 Letter sent by neighbors requesting documents and another meeting
Dec.14, 1998 Documents received from J. Palmer and T. Trueblood; none from School Board or Principal Day
Feb.23, 1999 Presentation to School Board; second petition (39 signatures) submitted requesting reconsideration of lights decision
Mar. 22, 1999 Tennis season begins
Apr. 16, 1999 Report from Musco Lighting stating that TLC shields would eliminate glare
Apr. 20, 1999 Presentation to City Council and written submission
Apr. 27, 1999 Presentation to School Board and written submission with proposed action(s)
May 10, 1999 Public meeting at high school
May 11, 1999 Presentation to school board requesting vote to install TLC shields
May 25,1999 Lights on school board agenda; no vote taken
June 8, 1999 Lights on school board agenda; board votes to install TLC shields, timing switch
June 29, 1999 TLC shields installed; on/off switch (not timer) installed sometime thereafter
Aug.10, 1999 Letter to school board, Superintendent Plugge, city council and others informing that situation is still unresolved and requesting working meeting
Aug.24, 1999 Presentation to school board regarding August 10 letter and requesting working meeting; board delegates matter to Superintendent
Aug.30, 1999 Superintendent meets with neighbors
Oct. 8, 1999 Letter of apology from Dr. Plugge with commitment for very minor modifications
Feb.8, 2000 Neighbors present specific request for substantial abatement to Board
Mar. 13, 2000 Dr. Plugge's response and final recommendations
Mar. 21, 2000 Neighbors request board review of Superintendent's action
Mar. 28, 2000 Board adopts rules for appeals process; invites neighbors to follow process and petition for review
Lights were installed at the City High tennis courts during November 1998. The lighting project was a cooperative project between the Iowa City Community Schools, the City of Iowa City and the Little Hawks Club. The project was initiated to provide additional court time for City High tennis team members during the spring season and to provide additional access to community members when not used for school purposes. A major benefit of the project was allowing use of school district facilities to non-students.
The project generated controversy when residents of Dunlap Court and Third Avenue, bordering the tennis courts, found the lighting to be intrusive. These residents also expressed concern that they were not included in the planning of the project.
The project has remained a concern of the residents of Dunlap Court and Third Avenue and they appeared at the February 22, 2000 Board of Education meeting to request a limitation on the days and hours of tennis court light operations. The Board of Education directed the superintendent of schools to make a decision regarding this request. Listed below please find my decision regarding the operation of the City High tennis court lights.
I find the lighting project to be an excellent means of providing services to non-students. Tennis is a sport that does not require a substantial financial commitment and adding lights to City High courts allows community members access to inexpensive recreational activity. The only problem with the project remains being responsive to the concerns expressed by residents of Dunlap Court and Third Avenue. In arriving at a decision I have visited with the concerned residents, City of Iowa City officials, Iowa City Community School District staff and community tennis supporters.
The options available to address the situation appear to be limited to the following:
• Make engineering adjustments to the current lights.
• Relocate the lights to another site.
• Remove the lights.
• Shorten the length of the season.
• Shorten the daily operation time.
The school district has investigated a number of engineering adjustments. Shortening the poles would not decrease the current levels of spill and glare. The TLC shields were the most extreme and effective engineering intervention available. The district will seek out a more sophisticated on and off tinting device. If one is found it will be installed and will provide better control, having the lights turned off use because of inclement weather or non-use.
I do not recommend relocating the lights to another site or removing the lights.
I recommend shortening the season length for lighting. Currently the lights are available for public use from April through October. I will negotiate a change in the agreement between the school district and city to end the lighting season on September 30.
I recommend not making any adjustments in the daily operation of the lights. Currently the lights are available for use until 10:00 p.m. each evening.
In summary I intend to shorten the lighting season by 31 days, a 14.5% reduction. Installation of a more sophisticated tinting device will further reduce the amount of lighting time. These adjustments fall short of the limitations requested by Dunlap and Third Avenue residents, but it is my hope these changes will be viewed as a cooperative measure.
The Board benefits from, and seeks, communication from the district's takeholders 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.