The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on April 4, beginning at 1 p.m., in the attempt to overturn a legal decision that would permit a public vote to merge the East Central and Preston school districts.

The issue stems from a June 16, 2010, decision by the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency to permit a public vote on merging the two districts. However, the East Central District challenged this decision, maintaining  the AEA did not comply with state law in determining whether the proposed district would be sufficiently viable before permitting a public vote to occur.

However, in a decision dated Aug. 19, 2011, District Court Judge Mary E. Howes ruled in favor of the AEA.  The East Central School Board voted to appeal the issue to the Iowa Supreme Court.

The East Central District and the AEA were advised of the hearing in a notice dated March 6 from Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark S. Cady. At the April 4 hearing, each side will be permitted to present 15 minutes of oral arguments, followed by an additional five minutes to reply.

According to a representative of the East Central School District, an expected timeline for a decision of the Iowa Supreme Court on the case is not known.

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