News companies file lawsuit against Bettendorf Community School District
BETTENDORF, Iowa (KCRG) - The Iowa Freedom of Information Council (Iowa FOI Council) and four news companies (Quad-City Times, KWQC, WQAD, and WHBF) have sued the Bettendorf Community School District and its board of directors after the District blocked journalists from covering a May school board meeting.
The lawsuit stems from a meeting on May 25th that was attended by 200 to 300 parents. The lawsuit states that school employees were stationed at the doors of the Waterfront Center to keep reporters and photographers from entering the meeting.
The gathering was held one day after the Uvalde massacre that killed 21 students and teachers and followed mounting complaints from parents about the lack of adequate response by school officials to rowdy behavior that left some students and parents fearful.
The lawsuit asks the Scott County District Court to find the school district in violation of Iowa’s open meetings law and to issue an injunction prohibiting the school board from violating the statute in the future. The lawsuit also asks the court to fine members of the board who took part in the meeting.
In a letter sent to Superintendent Morse and school board president Eastman, the Iowa FOI Council stated that “It would stretch believability to think that spending a couple of hours listening to the concerns of parents about the behavior of some Bettendorf Middle School students — including bullying and injuries suffered by students not otherwise involved in the incidents — does not fall within the meaning of deliberations on matters clearly within the scope of the Board of Education’s policy-making duties.”
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