Board of Directors of Independent School Dist. of Waterloo v. Green, No. 52296

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtRAWLINGS
Citation147 N.W.2d 854,259 Iowa 1260
Decision Date10 January 1967
Docket NumberNo. 52296
PartiesBOARD OF DIRECTORS OF the INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT OF WATERLOO, Iowa, properly known as the Independent School District of the City of Waterloo in the County of Black Hawk, State of Iowa, Appellant, v. Ronald GREEN, Appellee.

Page 854

147 N.W.2d 854
259 Iowa 1260
BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF the INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT OF WATERLOO, Iowa, properly known as the Independent School District of the City of Waterloo in the County of Black Hawk, State of Iowa, Appellant,
v.
Ronald GREEN, Appellee.
No. 52296.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Jan. 10, 1967.

[259 Iowa 1263]

Page 856

Parker, Reed, Sindlinger, Baker & Reed, by Wallace B. Reed, Waterloo, for appellant.

Fulton, Frerichs & Nutting, by C. A. Frerichs, Waterloo, for appellee.

Blythe C. Conn, Des Moines, amicus curiae.

RAWLINGS, Justice.

By an action in equity plaintiff student in the East Waterloo Public High School sought to enjoin defendant Board of Directors of the Independent School District from enforcing its previously adopted rule excluding all married pupils from participation in any extracurricular activities. The trial court granted relief prayed and the board appeals. We find defendant entitled to a reversal.

[259 Iowa 1264] Plaintiff, Ronald Green, being fully aware of the then existing school board rule, was married August 6, 1965.

He had previously been a regular player on the basketball team and desired to participate in the sport during his senior year but was advised this would not be permitted due to the rule.

It is plaintiff's contention the rule is arbitrary, unreasonable, irrational, unauthorized, irreparably injurious, and he has no adequate remedy at law.

Defendant board denies the claim made by plaintiff, asserts participation in extracurricular activities is a privilege, the rule is reasonable, it applies to all students, is authorized by law, plaintiff failed to exercise the administrative right of appeal provided by law and he is not entitled to injunctive relief.

I. Our review is de novo. We will examine the facts as well as the law and draw therefrom such conclusions as are found to be just and proper under all the circumstances. Rule 344, R.C.P.; Baker v. Starkey, Iowa, 144 N.W.2d 889, 895; and Simpkins v. Simpkins, 258 Iowa 87, 137 N.W.2d 621, 624.

II. Prior to presentation of arguments on appeal plaintiff graduated from high school, but this alone does not serve to dispose of this case.

In general an action is moot if it no longer presents a justiciable controversy because the issues involved have become academic or nonexistent. It has also been said a case is moot when a judgment, if rendered, will have no practical legal effect upon the existing controversy. But, in actions where injunctive relief is sought, the cessation or completion of the objectionable act does not necessarily render the issue moot. Danner v. Hass, 257 Iowa 654, 134 N.W.2d 534, 538--539; Gunnar v. Town of Montezuma, 228 Iowa 581, 584, 293 N.W. 1; Gray v. Sanders, 372 U.S. 368, 375--376, 83 S.Ct. 801, 806, 9 L.Ed.2d 821; and Sigma Chi Fraternity v. Regents of University of Colorado, D.C., 258 F.Supp. 515, 523.

When the issue presented is of substantial public interest there exists a permissible exception to the general rule that a case which has become moot or presents only an academic question will be dismissed on appeal.

Among the recognized criteria for determination of existence[259 Iowa 1265] of the requisite degree of public interest are: (1) the public or private nature of the question presented, (2) desirability of an authoritative adjudication for future guidance of public officials, and (3) likelihood of future recurrence of the same or similar problem.

Page 857

Applying these guidelines we find the present case falls within that important area involving the administration, operation, management and control of our public school system.

Here the challenged rule remains and we are persuaded the school officials are reasonably and justly entitled to a determination of its legality and enforceability.

Furthermore the very urgency which presses for prompt action by public officials makes it probable any similar case arising in the future will likewise become moot by ordinary standards before it can be resolved by this court.

Under these circumstances the issue presented in this case should be now adjudicated.

In support of the foregoing see also 5 Am.Jur.2d, Appeal and Error, section 768, page 210.

III. Another preliminary matter to be resolved is the claim of defendant board to the effect plaintiff is by law confined to an appeal to the county superintendent and then to the State Board of Public Instruction. Code sections 290.1 and 290.5. With this we cannot agree.

Decisions of local boards involving the exercise of their discretion must ordinarily be appealed to the county superintendent and the state board.

However, where jurisdiction and power of a board of directors of a local school district are placed in question, or in cases involving construction of statutes conferring authority upon school officers, the courts of the state are the sole arbiters. Center Tp. School Dist. v. Oakland Independent School Dist., 251 Iowa 1113, 1117--1119, 104 N.W.2d 454; Altman v. Independent School Dist. of Gilmore City, 239 Iowa 635, 641, 32 N.W.2d 392; Courtright v. Consolidated Independent School Dist. of Mapleton, 203 Iowa 26, 30, 212 N.W. 368; 79 C.J.S. Schools and School Districts § 495, page 444; and 47 Am.Jur., Schools, section 47, page 328.

[259 Iowa 1266] The trial court had jurisdiction to entertain this cause of action.

IV. The operation of the public schools of this state under and in accord with applicable statutes is clearly vested in the duly elected directors of the various local school boards. This includes authority to adopt rules for its own government and that of all its pupils. See Code sections 277.23--277.30, 274.1, 274.7, and 279.8.

The board of directors of each school district is its governing body. Center Tp. School Dist. v. Oakland Independent School Dist., 251 Iowa 1113, 1120, 104 N.W.2d 454.

V. It is also understood that where a school board has acted pursuant to law, the action taken must be regarded at least as prima facie correct. It will be considered by our courts as lawful and valid until the contrary is shown. Smith v. District Tp. of Knox, 42 Iowa 522, 525; 79 C.J.S. Schools and School Districts § 495, page 444; and 47 Am.Jur., Schools, section 47, page 329.

VI. Furthermore courts of equity will not ordinarily interfere by injunctive process with the actions of subordinate political or municipal tribunals, including school boards. And, where matters are by law left to the discretion of such bodies, the exercise of that discretion, in good faith, absent fraud, will not be disturbed. Green v. Webster County Bd. of Ed., 253 Iowa 1198, 1201, 115 N.W.2d 856; Clay v. Independent School Dist. of Cedar Falls, 187 Iowa 89, 98, 174 N.W. 47, and citations; Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, D.C., 258 F.Supp. 971,...

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45 practice notes
  • Catholic Charities of Archdiocese of Dubuque v. Zalesky, No. 2--56720
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • August 29, 1975
    ...aforesaid adoption of Baby Boy Cox. By reason thereof the case now before us is moot. See Board of Directors Ind. Sch. Dist. v. Green, 259 Iowa 1260, 1264--1265, 147 N.W.2d 854 Page 543 II. Despite the above holding we have said that where, as here, 'the issue presented is of substantial pu......
  • Indiana High School Athletic Ass'n v. Raike, No. 2--273A38
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • May 12, 1975
    ...Dittmer v. Indianapolis (1968), 143 Ind.App. 621, 625, 242 N.E.2d 106; Bd. of Dir. of Ind. School Dist. of Waterloo v. Green (1967), 259 Iowa 1260, 147 N.W.2d 854, 856. Sturrup v. Mahan (1974), Ind., 305 N.E.2d Also the Rules constitute 'state action' for the purpose of allowing reviewabili......
  • K. L. v. Mo. State High Sch. Activities Ass'n, Case No: 4:15CV679 HEA
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • April 8, 2016
    ...the Court of Common Pleas, 173 Ohio St. 239, 173 Ohio St. 239, 181 N.E.2d 261 (Ohio Sup.Ct.1962) ; School District of Waterloo v. Green , 259 Iowa 1260, 147 N.W.2d 854 (Ia.Sup.Ct.1967) ; Adamek v. Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, 57 Pa.Cmwlth. 261, 426 A.2d 1206 (Pa.Comm.C......
  • State ex rel. Fulton v. Scheetz, No. 53068
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 8, 1969
    ...is moot. We do not so find. The questions here presented should be resolved. See Board of Directors Ind. Sch. Dist. of Waterloo v. Green, 259 Iowa 1260, 1264--1265, 147 N.W.2d Defendant's appeal has been accordingly entertained. XII. Defendant has been treated kindly. If the treatment he ha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
45 cases
  • Catholic Charities of Archdiocese of Dubuque v. Zalesky, No. 2--56720
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • August 29, 1975
    ...aforesaid adoption of Baby Boy Cox. By reason thereof the case now before us is moot. See Board of Directors Ind. Sch. Dist. v. Green, 259 Iowa 1260, 1264--1265, 147 N.W.2d 854 Page 543 II. Despite the above holding we have said that where, as here, 'the issue presented is of substantial pu......
  • Indiana High School Athletic Ass'n v. Raike, No. 2--273A38
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • May 12, 1975
    ...Dittmer v. Indianapolis (1968), 143 Ind.App. 621, 625, 242 N.E.2d 106; Bd. of Dir. of Ind. School Dist. of Waterloo v. Green (1967), 259 Iowa 1260, 147 N.W.2d 854, 856. Sturrup v. Mahan (1974), Ind., 305 N.E.2d Also the Rules constitute 'state action' for the purpose of allowing reviewabili......
  • K. L. v. Mo. State High Sch. Activities Ass'n, Case No: 4:15CV679 HEA
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • April 8, 2016
    ...the Court of Common Pleas, 173 Ohio St. 239, 173 Ohio St. 239, 181 N.E.2d 261 (Ohio Sup.Ct.1962) ; School District of Waterloo v. Green , 259 Iowa 1260, 147 N.W.2d 854 (Ia.Sup.Ct.1967) ; Adamek v. Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, 57 Pa.Cmwlth. 261, 426 A.2d 1206 (Pa.Comm.C......
  • State ex rel. Fulton v. Scheetz, No. 53068
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 8, 1969
    ...is moot. We do not so find. The questions here presented should be resolved. See Board of Directors Ind. Sch. Dist. of Waterloo v. Green, 259 Iowa 1260, 1264--1265, 147 N.W.2d Defendant's appeal has been accordingly entertained. XII. Defendant has been treated kindly. If the treatment he ha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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