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MLK Day Means Three Day Weekend For Some In Iowa City

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IOWA CITY - Iowa City schools will be in session on Monday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but some students will not be there, according to local activist Royceann Porter.

"We are inviting people to come out to our community event, we need people to come out," Porter said. "It's just what we do, we celebrate MLK."

Porter is scheduled to receive an MLK achievement award from Governor Branstad Monday morning. By afternoon she will be at a public celebration she helped organize called "Unity in the Community." The event will be at the Spot and the Kingdom Center, 1030 Crosspark Ave. in Iowa City.

"There has never been school and I feel the Iowa City Community School District dismantled our program for MLK day," Porter said of an event held in years past. "We didn't step on their toes, they stepped on ours."

District officials have said they will excuse absences if a parent calls a student in. It's still not clear how they will handle absences if they cannot track down a student who does not have a parent call in.

"Certainly on Monday if there are students who don't arrive in school, if we aren't able to account for them, we will have to spend time contacting parents to make sure their children are safe," said Superintendent Steve Murley.

Porter said parents shouldn't have to call their kids in to be excused for the day.

"It's a federal holiday," she said. "You don't call in on a federal holiday."

The district will not hold school on MLK day next year. Students who attend Monday classes will learn about Dr. King and participate in service activities, officials said.