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Polk Judge orders Toledo Juvenile Home reopened

February 5, 2014
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Polk County Judge Scott D. Rosenberg sustained a request for a preliminary injunction and ordered the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo reopened in action in Polk County District Court on Wednesday, Feb. 5.

According to online court records, the ruling said, in part, "The defendants shall reopen the Toledo Home and abide by the laws of the State of Iowa."

The Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo was ordered closed on Dec. 9 effective Jan. 16 by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and the Department of Human Services.

Article Photos

A portion of the 27-acre Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for girls campus in Toledo.
Chronicle file

On Jan. 15, state troopers ordered employees to leave the campus with an hours notice, a day ahead of the scheduled closing. The remaining girls on campus had been placed elsewhere earlier. Some 90 employees were laid off.

State Representative Dean Fisher had this comment on the court order- ""This ruling in favor of re-opening the Iowa Juvenile Home (IJH) is excellent news. However, it is but one skirmish in a much larger battle. The judge ruled that the governor had the opportunity to line item veto the funding for the juvenile home last year when he approved the appropriations bills, but since he did not veto that line item he had no right to misappropriate those funds by closing the home. However, the governor would have the opportunity to veto the budget this year, thus legally and constitutionally closing the home. Therefor the future of the IJH is still not clear. I will continue to work on legislation that will re-open the home in spite of this ruling."

State Senator Steve Sodders issued this statement: "This is great news for Iowa's troubled children, their families and their communities. Governor Branstad's hasty, behind-closed-doors decision to close the Iowa Juvenile Home disrupted their lives. Today, I ask the Governor to end his unilateral decision-making and to join our bipartisan efforts to ensure that struggling Iowa girls to have the best chance possible to succeed. I am thankful for the support that juvenile court officers, state and local officials, former Juvenile Home staffers, and the Toledo community have shown the campaign to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home."

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The governor has earlier defended the action maintaining the closing was in the best interest of Iowa youth. The closing came after allegations were made by Disability Rights Iowa, a federally-funded, non-profit group of attorneys which investigated IJH operations and went to the Des Moines Register with their findings.

It was not immediately known what measure would be taken by the Governor or DHS in the matter following the Wednesday ruling.

A bill was introduced in the Iowa Senate last week calling for the reopening, as well.



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