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Deibler v. Iowa Board of Regents

Court of Appeal of Iowa

July 10, 2013

DAVID DEIBLER, ET AL., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
IOWA BOARD OF REGENTS, Defendant-Appellee.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Alan L. Pearson, Judge.

The plaintiffs appeal the district court's ruling on a petition for judicial review.

Thomas P. Frerichs of Frerichs Law Office, P.C., Waterloo, for appellants.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Jeffrey S. Thompson, Deputy Attorney General, Diane M. Stahle, Special Assistant Attorney General, and Timothy L. Vavricek, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Heard by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Tabor, JJ.

VAITHESWARAN, J.

We must decide whether a notice of appeal was filed on a timely basis.

I. Background Proceedings

The Malcolm Price Laboratory School, formerly housed on the University of Northern Iowa campus in Cedar Falls, educated pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade students. The Iowa Board of Regents was the governing body of the school. For budgetary reasons, the Board approved the closure of the school, effective June 30, 2012.

A group of Black Hawk County citizens sought judicial review of the Board's decision. They alleged that a 2009 statute "transformed" the Price lab school into a "Research and Development School." The group asserted the statute precluded the Board from closing the Price lab school.

The parties agreed the petition presented issues of law and not fact. Following a hearing, the district court reiterated that position in its ruling and stated it had "disregard[ed] fact submissions from either party unless there [was] apparent agreement to the fact at issue." The court proceeded to describe the "factual context" in which the issue of law arose and emphasized that the only issue to be decided was whether the 2009 statute "restrict[ed] the previously granted authority [of the Board] in such a way that the board lost its existing authority to close . . . the Malcolm Price Laboratory School." The court concluded that, at the time the Board ordered the school closed, it had the authority to do so, a research and development school did not exist, and the 2009 statute "provid[ed] no basis for interfering with the exercise of the board's discretion in closing the Malcolm Price Laboratory School." The court affirmed "[t]he administrative action of the Board of Regents closing the Malcolm Price Laboratory School." The court's decision was dated June 25, 2012.

The plaintiffs filed a "motion for rehearing, expanded findings of fact and conclusions of law" "pursuant to Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure 1.904(2), 1.1004(6), and 1.1004(8)." The district court denied the motion on July 31, 2012, and the plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal on August 14, 2012.

The Board responded to the notice of appeal with a motion to dismiss the appeal as untimely. See Iowa R. App. P. 6.1006(1). The Iowa Supreme Court ordered the motion submitted ...


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