Jackson County District Court Judge Mary E. Howes has issued a summary judgment on behalf of the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, ruling it did not exceed its authority in approving a public vote on whether to merge the Preston and East Central school districts.
The AEA took the action approving the vote at an approximate four-hour long public hearing held on June 16, 2010 at the Ohnward Center in Maquoketa. However, the East Central District legally challenged the AEA decision, maintaining the agency did not fulfill its obligations under Iowa Code to determine if the new merged district would have sufficient viability before permitting a vote to occur.
Howes made her ruling in a decision dated Aug. 19, but released Monday.
Although there is an upcoming Sept. 13 election, the Jackson County Auditor’s office said Tuesday that 32 days notice is required prior to an election for ballot changes, and that current ballots have already been printed. The Auditor’s office said the earliest the merger vote could occur is the first Tuesday of February 2012.
Also, under Iowa Code the East Central District has 30 days to appeal Judge Howes’ decision.
East Central School District Superintendent Neil Gray said Monday the school board will meet later this week to discuss whether or not to appeal Judge Howes’ ruling.
Read more on this story in tomorrow's Clinton Herald.