UPDATE: Judge Rules on Price Lab Closure; Timing Appeared to Be Key to Decision
A Black Hawk County judge issued a verdict in the controversial case today.
Updated 2:15 p.m.
A judge's decision to dismiss a lawsuit against the Board of Regents hinged on timing, according to his ruling.
Black Hawk County District Judge Alan Pearson has dismissed a lawsuit filed by supporters of Malcolm Price Laboratory School, who had argued the regents did not have the legal power under state law to close the school.
The 37 parents and community members who filed the lawsuit argued the school was designated as Iowa's Research and Development School, and that the existence of the Research and Development School was enshrined in Iowa's legal code. Therefore, they said, the Board of Regents did not have the authority to close the school without approval by the state legislature.
However, in today's ruling, Pearson said that argument was mote, because the research and development school was still, "in transition."
He said the legislature designated a three-year transition process which would have officially established a research and development school on July 1, 2012.
“It is unnecessary to consider whether S.F. 470 vested the board of regents with authority to abolish an established research and development school because, at the time of the board’s action on February 27, 2012, there was no research and development school. What existed, as a matter of law, was a laboratory school in transition.”
On the Facebook group "Keep Price Lab Open," group members wrote they were told they now have ten days to ask for more information and clarification from the judge. The group will likely meet today to discuss any future legal steps.
Updated 12:30 p.m.:
A judge has ruled the Board of Regents does have the authority to close Malcolm Price Laboratory School.
Black Hawk County District Judge Alan Pearson has dismissed a lawsuit filed by supporters of the school, who had argued the regents did not have the legal power under state law to close the school.
Dave Deibler is a Price Lab parent and one of the over 30 community members who jointly filed the lawsuit. He said the group will likely appeal the decision.
"We'll have a meeting, maybe this afternoon," he said. "I'm sure we could take this as far as it could go in Iowa. We always knew that this was a possibility."
The group organized numerous protests, as well as the lawsuit, in the months since the plan to close the school was announced. Deibler said even though they have lost this court case, he still feels the battle was worth it. He also said he's not angry anymore.
"I don't have any anger left in my body. It's just not healthy," he said. "I still think we're right. I think this is a move to make UNI smaller and less important statewide or even nationally."
Price Lab, which had over 350 pre-K to 12 students enrolled last year, has served as part of the University of Northern Iowa's teacher training program, as well as filling the role of the state's Research and Development School. It was closed at the end of the school year as part of broad budget cuts at UNI.