DMPS to Hold Open Meeting Thursday to Discuss Further Return-to-Learn Plans

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DES MOINES, Iowa — After a closed meeting with legal counsel Wednesday evening, the Des Moines Public School board will hold an open meeting on Thursday, to figure out future return-to-learn options in compliance with state law.

This comes a day after a Polk County judge denied the district a temporary injunction to continue all online learning. Following the ruling, the board announced it would have a closed meeting with its counsel to discuss the pending lawsuit against Gov. Kim Reynolds and future legal action.

Rob Barron, an at-large member of the DMPS board, said he could not disclose details of the closed meeting because it involves pending litigation. However, he said that is why the board is having an open meeting Thursday so the public can see how they are making further decisions around return-to-learn.

“We want to have this conversation in front of the public, because we know that our families have a lot of questions and we know our teachers are worried and our staff is worried,” Barron said.

Parents and teachers have had questions over whether or not students will receive credit for virtual instruction.

The Iowa Department of Education said any district’s refusal to comply with state law “does not impact a student’s ability to earn credit, graduate or receive a high school diploma as long as the district remains accredited.” DMPS is an accredited district.

However, a department spokesperson also said the district may have to later make-up the instruction days taking place online.

Individual students can be awarded credit, even during the time DMPS provides 100 percent remote learning without meeting the conditions outlined in the Governor’s proclamation, since awarding credit is a local decision. However, Des Moines Public Schools would be out of compliance with state law requirements for the school calendar. The time would not count toward the required 180 days or 1080 hours of instruction for the district. Depending on the days or hours of instruction DMPS has built into their school calendar, this could result in the district having to make up the time. This is an accreditation requirement. 

Heather Doe, Director of Communications – Iowa Department of Education

Barron said he was “disappointed” in the state.

“My board is trying to do what’s best for our entire community, starting with our children,” he said. “The state has been making this move — which we honestly don’t think that they can do — to threaten the credits of our students, is just trying to put them in the middle of it. That’s not fair.”

The public can tune-in on YouTube to the school board’s virtual session Thursday at 5:45 p.m.

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