Education

Fight over Iowa City Hoover Elementary demolition goes to Iowa Supreme Court

Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday over whether the district should have held a public vote

Tate High School holds classes at the former Hoover Elementary School, 2200 E Court St., in Iowa City. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Tate High School holds classes at the former Hoover Elementary School, 2200 E Court St., in Iowa City. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

The Iowa Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear oral arguments in a case against the Iowa City Community School District over whether the district should have held a public vote on demolition of the former Hoover Elementary School.

The case brought by three Iowa City residents in 2017 will go before the Supreme Court around 2 p.m. Wednesday in Des Moines. Each side will have 15 minutes to present their case, followed by rebuttals.

The hearing will be livestreamed on the state judicial branch’s YouTube channel.

The Iowa City School Board decided in 2013 to close Hoover, at 2200 E. Court St., as part of a master facilities plan that called for upgrades at schools across the district. Hoover parents fought the closure even as the district tried to gain public support for the facilities plan.

The lawsuit, filed in 2017 by Heather Young, Del Holland and Blake Hendrickson, said the district should have included the planned demolition of the school in a Sept. 12, 2017, referendum on the facilities plan.

Although a petition by the plaintiffs had the required number of signatures, the district did not forward it to the Johnson County Auditor so it could be part of the ballot question, the lawsuit states.

Days before the 2017 vote, Johnson County Judge Sean McPartland ruled the district illegally had dismissed the petition and he ordered the district to put the question on the next regular election ballot.

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But McPartland denied the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary injunction to order a special election on the Hoover demolition question.

He also refused to order the district delay demolition of the school until after a referendum.

In the appeal to the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs argued their constitutional rights were violated when the district failed to put the Hoover question on the ballot.

“What should the remedies be when a governmental body refuses to hold a statutorily required referendum election which threatens to overturn the government’s chosen course of action?” the plaintiffs’ final brief states.

The former Hoover school saw its last elementary students in May, but the building still is being used by the district. Tate High School holds classes there while the high school is under construction to add new classrooms, a gym and a secure entrance.

A new Hoover Elementary opened in 2017 at 1355 Barrington Rd.

Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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