Des Moines Schools denied injunction in online learning lawsuit

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Des Moines Public Schools. (WHO-HD)

DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO-TV) — A Polk County judge has denied a request for a temporary injunction allowing them to continue online-only learning without violating state law.

The district applied to the Iowa Department of Education for a waiver from in-class instruction requirements due to concerns over COVID-19 cases surging in the Des Moines area. That waiver was denied. DMPS responded with a lawsuit challenging the waiver system and seeking a temporary injunction to allow them to continue online-only learning until the suit was settled.

On Tuesday morning, the same day that Des Moines students returned to virtual class to begin the school year, the injunction was denied. Judge Jeffrey Farrell writes in his order:

“DMPS makes excellent policy points in support of its arguments for local control, but state law trumps local control in this area of education. School district are a creation of state law and have no rights beyond those given by the legislature.”

Judge Jeffrey Farrell

The Department of Education has told schools that if they conduct online-only classes without a waiver to do so, those school days may not count towards instructional hours required by state law.

DMPS has not announced its next step in the legal proceedings.

Governor Kim Reynolds responded to the Tuesday court ruling with this statement:

“The court’s decision today recognizes that we are correctly interpreting Iowa law, and I remain committed to working with Des Moines Public Schools on their return to learn plan so that it meets the educational and health needs of Iowa’s children.”

Governor Kim Reynolds

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