Judge now reviewing Price Lab lawsuit - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Judge now reviewing Price Lab lawsuit

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A Black Hawk County District Court judge is now reviewing the lawsuit filed over the closure of Price Lab School in Cedar Falls.  Thirty-seven parents, teachers, and citizens filed the suit back in March.  Monday, the plaintiffs and the state laid out their case

The case largely centers on one issue:  did the Board of Regents have legal authority to close Price Lab??

Since the Iowa Board of Regents made the decision back to close the school in February, the battle lines have been drawn.

"It's unfortunate that our community's losing something so wonderful as this school," said Stacy Glascock, Price Lab parent, on May 29.

That's why fervent supporters of the school have rallied, protested, and ultimately filed a lawsuit, aiming to stop Price Lab from closing.

"The grounds are whether or not the BOR has the authority to close the school, or whether it's truly a legislative matter," said Betsy Peterson, Price Lab parent, on March 22.

The attorney representing families filing suit against closing Price Lab agrees, saying that the Board of Regents overstepped its authority and only the legislature could decide to shut it down.

That's because a section of Iowa code, 256G, requires the state to run a research and development school, then names that facility as Price Lab at the University of Northern Iowa.

UNI President Ben Allen has previously said the Regents were able to reach their decision based on his budget cutting recommendations.

"We have so many fine people working hard to make this happen. It know it's been a difficult challenge, but I'm so proud that these people are working so hard to make it happen," Allen said on April 25.

In the lawsuit, the state's argued Iowa law gives the Board of Regents wide-ranging authority to do what's necessary to manage its facilities, including Price Lab.

Questions were raised today about the challenges of funding Price Lab if the judge rules the Regents didn't have authority to close it.

The plaintiffs argue the legislature has always funded Price Lab, as part of UNI's appropriation, but UNI instead decided the lab school was an easy target for cuts.

The state argues that the court shouldn't order how such money is spent.  The judge is expected to issue his ruling on or before June 26th.  However, he acknowledges the buck won't stop with him, as the decision will likely be appealed to a higher court.

 

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