The Iowa Public Information Board
COMES NOW, Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director for the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), and enters this Dismissal Order.
On September 3, 2020, Eric Henely filed formal complaint 20FC:0091, alleging that the Gilbert Community School District (District) violated Iowa Code chapter 21.
Mr. Henely alleged that the District violated Iowa Code chapter 21 by changing its notice policy to discontinue advance email notification to everyone who requested such notification. The District was at one time providing such notice. At the July 20, 2020, meeting, the District school board modified school board policy 210.5 to provide such email notification only to members of the media as required by Iowa Code section 21.4(1)(a).
When he inquired whether he would be considered a member of the media, he was informed by the school board president that the District considered the media to include those individuals employed by a news medium such as radio, television, newspapers, and similar entities. Mr. Henley does not fall within the District’s definition of media.
Mr. Henley requested that the IPIB adopt the definition of “news media” provided in rule 25.1(5) of the Iowa Court Rules which states:
“News media” includes any person who regularly gathers, prepares, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes news or information about matters of public interest in any medium and who successfully applies to participate in expanded news media coverage and agrees to comply with all court rules.
A governmental body as defined by Iowa Code section 21.2(1) is required to follow the open meetings law as outlined by Iowa Code chapter 21. A governmental body is not required to follow Iowa Court Rules. While the IPIB encourages all governmental bodies to provide more transparency than required by Chapter 21, the IPIB cannot find a violation occurred when the governmental body complies with the requirements of Chapter 21.
Iowa Code section 23.8 requires that a complaint be within the IPIB’s jurisdiction, appear legally sufficient, and could have merit before the IPIB accepts a complaint. This complaint does not meet those requirements.
IT IS SO ORDERED: Formal complaint 20FC:091 is dismissed as legally insufficient pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.8(2) and Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(2)(b).
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(3), the IPIB may “delegate acceptance or dismissal of a complaint to the executive director, subject to review by the board.” The IPIB will review this Order on September 17, 2020. Pursuant to IPIB rule 497-2.1(4), the parties will be notified in writing of its decision.
By the IPIB Executive Director
Margaret E. Johnson, J.D.
1. This definition is included in Chapter 25 of the Iowa Court Rules that govern Expanded News Media Coverage. Rule 25 limits this definition to Chapter 25.
2. The IPIB submitted legislation in 2020 to modify the Iowa Code to require advance notification under Iowa Code section 21.4(1)(a) to any person who requested such notification, not just to the media. This legislative proposal was unsuccessful.
CERTIFICATE OF MAILING
This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of September, 2020, to:
Gilbert Community School District, Carrie Weber, legal counsel