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State: Iowa City School Diversity Policy Would Violate Law

The Iowa City diversity policy is not necessarily dead, though.

A controversial Iowa City school diversity policy that has fueled tensions between parents in the district would violate the law if enacted, according to a state official.

The policy was intended to balance out the economic diversity among the student populations and set capacity limits that would effect new construction.

An official from the Iowa Department of Education said in a letter to Superintendent Steve Murley that the diversity policy as written would violate the law. Using the "free and reduced price lunch" demographics as the basis for balancing out the district, appears to be the piece that is not in compliance.

The Gazette reports that the problems with the diversity policy won't necessarily kill it.

That determination does not mean the death of the policy, however, Jeff Berger, the department’s deputy director, said in an interview Friday. He said there are other ways the district could implement the policy and have similar effect. One way is using census data on income instead of free or reduced-price lunch rates, which is a measure for poverty.

Berger said the state’s role is not to approve or deny the plan, but rather to ensure its language complies with state and federal laws.

The school board was set to hold a vote on the diversity policy next Tuesday.

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