DES MOINES, Iowa – The five Iowa school districts that currently use voluntary diversity plans to deny open enrollment can no longer do so under a new law. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed HF 228 into law on Monday.
The new law also waives the March 1 deadline to apply for open enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year for families in those school districts. Receiving school districts can still deny open enrollment requests if there is insufficient building space or if they are under a court-ordered desegregation plan and receiving a new student would adversely affect compliance with that court order.
Before the new law passed school districts could deny open enrollment requests for students that do not meet certain criteria if they utilized a voluntary diversity plan. Des Moines, Davenport, and Waterloo base their plans on socio-economic criteria. For instance, in Des Moines, students who do not qualify for free or reduced school lunches can be denied open enrollment. Currently, a family of four whose household income exceeds $49,025 would not be eligible. Postville and West Liberty base their diversity plans upon English as a second language learner status.
Prohibiting the use of voluntary diversity plans to deny open enrollment was part of Reynolds’ “Student First” agenda that she introduced during her State of the State address.
The Iowa House originally passed the bill on February 2 by a 56 to 32 vote. The Iowa Senate amended the bill and passed it on April 6 by a 29 to 17 vote. The Iowa House passed the bill again by a 56 to 37 vote on April 20.