ICCSD School Board decides to have school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Hannah Merrill

Community members gathered at the Iowa City Community School District’s School Board meeting on Dec. 17 at six in the evening, many with pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. attached to their shirts.  Others carried signs to protest the District’s decision to have school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day during the 2013-2014 school year.  Historically, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is Jan. 20, has been a school vacation day.

Superintendent Stephen Murley explained to the School Board and the community members that based on what he has learned, there are no rules addressing changing a school’s calendar during the school year, but that the District has no capacity to change the calendar mid-year.  The District cannot change the calendar as the Iowa Department of Education has no process for doing so.  Based on this information, Murley decided that there will be school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2014.

Community member Phil Hemingway pointed out that this is another example of the District not communicating with the community, while another member argued that because there is no state statute, the law is up for interpretation.

At the School Board meeting on Dec. 10, Board members had also voted to continue the discussion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and possibly not hold classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the future.

The Board claims that there will be many activities for students at school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, however parents will have the option to excuse their students if they have other plans.

The Board also discussed connecting with community groups.  During community discussion, a community member complained that the Board is making people come to them, when in her opinion, the Board should be going out into the community.  In the end, the Board voted to make Jeff McGinness and Brian Kirschling liaisons to the Iowa City Coalition for Racial Justice and the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa.