Price Lab Supporters Argue in Court Against Closing School

By Jeff Reinitz, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

Price Lab students, faculty and guests enjoy a picnic lunch at the Price Lab Field Day Tuesday, May 29, 2012. (BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer)

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By Lauren Peikoff

WATERLOO, Iowa - Supporters of the shuttered Price Lab School were in court Monday to make the case that the school should be allowed to remain open.

Thirty-seven parents and educators connected with the school took the Iowa Board of Regents to court arguing the board overstepped its authority when it voted to close the school, which was run by the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

Attorney Thomas Frerichs told the court the case boils down to legislative intent. He said lawmakers wanted to establish a brick-and-mortar pre-kindergarten through 12 research and development school at Price Lab in a statute that went into place in 2010.

But he said UNI officials didn’t want to do it and closed Price Lab as part of a move to turn the R&D school concept into a virtual think tank.

He said the Board of Regents’ February vote to disband the school wasn’t allowed without legislative action.

Deputy Attorney General Jeff Thompson, who represented the Regents, said state law allows the board to create and close lab schools.

“Nowhere does it say ‘Thou shall not close Malcolm Price Lab School,” Thompson said.

He said the legislature had looked into a plan to transition Price Lab into the R&D school. But that idea called for expanding Price Lab site and was dropped because of the economy, political climate and sticker shock.

Senior Judge Alan Pearson said he will rule on the matter before June 30.

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