Iowa Department of Education to Stop Granting Waivers
Today school districts and the public were notified that the Iowa Department of Education will stop granting automatic waivers to school districts seeking to start classes earlier in the summer. The current law states that districts must start school no earlier than the calendar week that includes Sept. 1.
At this time, we do not know how this change will affect our 2015-16 school calendar or future calendars. The district and board will begin discussing what this means for the Waukee Community School District when we return from winter break.
Letter from the Iowa Department of Education:
Dear Iowa school leaders,
In recent years, the Department has received numerous complaints from parents and other community members alike about waivers of the school start date law. As such, the Department has reviewed its current practice and will be implementing a new procedure that more accurately reflects the legal authority the Department has to grant these waiver requests. Effective immediately, the Department will no longer automatically grant waivers of the school start date requested under Iowa Code section 279.10(4) for the 2015-2016 school year.
Moving forward, the director or director’s designee will only consider a school or school district’s request for a waiver of the school start date if the school or school district has adequately demonstrated that starting on or after the earliest start date specified would have a significant negative educational impact. Each request will be individually reviewed and approved or denied by the director or the director’s designee. These requests will be considered in light of the new flexibility allowed under the law, which is outlined below.
As of July 1, 2014, districts and accredited nonpublic schools have the option to choose between 180 days or 1,080 hours of instruction when setting their school calendars. Iowa Code § 256.7(19). This change in the law has provided new flexibility to schools and school districts to set their school calendars in a manner consistent with the requirements of Iowa Code section 279.10(1) which requires that “school shall begin no sooner than a day during the calendar week in which the first day of September falls . . . if the first day falls on a Sunday, school may begin on a day during the calendar week which immediately precedes the first day of September.” Id.
Please plan accordingly for the 2015-2016 school year. The Department will issue guidance on implementation of current law in early 2015.