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Supreme Court to hear appeal of judge’s order to reopen IJH

February 26, 2014
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

A Polk County District Court order to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo will be reviewed by the Iowa Supreme Court. This halts any action to immediately re-start the facility.

No hearing date by the Supreme Court was set in the decision announced on Friday, Feb. 21.

The IJH / Girls Training School was ordered closed on Jan. 15 by Governor Terry Branstad and Human Services Director Charles Palmer.

Article Photos

This group worked Friday morning, Feb. 21, to finish assembling over 800 letters which have been mailed to organizations which have supported the Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation over the years. The letters contained testimonials from former students at the Toledo institution about the positive changes in their lives made after their stays here. The letters were anticipation of possible legislative action this week on the closed facility and sought support for reopening.
Chronicle/John Speer

In response, four Democratic legislators and Danny Homan, head of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers filed suit claiming, in part, the action could not be taken because the legislature had funded operations through the current fiscal year.

"I am encouraged the Iowa Supreme Court has agreed to hear our appeal regarding the Iowa Juvenile Home," Branstad said in a statement released following the Supreme Court decision. "Since learning about the situation at the Juvenile Home, my utmost concern has been the health, safety and education of the children. We believe the children are now being well-served in licensed and accredited facilities where they are receiving the quality treatment and education they deserve."

In reaction, the four legislators - Senators Steve Sodders and Jack Hatch and Representatives Mark Smith and Pat Murphy - issued this comment "We are encouraged that the Iowa Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of a district court decision that overturned Governor Branstad's unprecedented and unconstitutional decision to close the Iowa Juvenile Home. Governor Branstad's reckless decision to close the Iowa Juvenile Home disrupted the lives of many of Iowa's troubled children, their families and their communities.

"We continue to believe that reopening a properly managed Iowa Juvenile Home is the best way to ensure that health, safety and education of these children."

Others including the organization representing many of the Iowa juvenile court officers have pointed to the need for such a facility as IJH.

At the time of the closing, the 21 girls remaining on the IJH?campus had been moved to other placements.

An investigation of IJH / State Training School for Girls launched by Disability Rights Iowa in December, 2012, led to the Governor's decision.

The rights group charged at least one girl had been held in an isolation or quiet room for up to a year and girls had been denied proper education. Disability Rights Iowa took their information to The Des Moines Register.

The organization is a federally-funded, non-profit group of attorneys.

The Iowa Juvenile Home has operated in Toledo since 1920. It listed 93 employees at the time of the closing and was the city's largest employer.



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