Wednesday afternoon a Polk County District Judge ruled the Iowa Juvenile Home should be re-opened.
The ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed last month by AFSCME President Danny Homan and four lawmakers including Sen. Jack Hatch.
The group says the Governor passed legislation to fund the Toledo Facility through June of next year and it should have remained open.
The lawsuit claims the Governor doesn’t have the authority to simply change course.
“The decision of the governor to close it so quickly and without any input from the community or the legislatures and other experts was very strange, even his task force didn`t recommend closing so this was a unilateral decision,” says Sen. Hatch.
The facility closed January 15th. More than 90 people lost their jobs and all the girls staying there were moved to other facilities.
Today Judge Scott Rosenberg requested an injunction and denied the state’s request for a dismissal.
In his brief Judge Rosenberg agreed with the plaintiff’s saying,
“The Toledo Home has been established by the Iowa Legislature with approval of the Executive branch. Appropriations to effectuate the purpose of the Toledo Home were properly passed by the Iowa Legislature and become law.”
He went on to say, “If the Governor of the State of Iowa decided that the Toledo Home should not operate, he had the opportunity to end its operation when the appropriations bill was placed upon his desk for signature. At the point the Governor could have vetoed the bill.”
AFSCME President Danny Homan says the Governor overstepped his authority.
“When the Governor ordered the closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home he disregarded and ignored the separation of power by failing to work with the Iowa General Assembly, while this would be troubling in any situation it was particularly troubling in this case because the safety of Iowa`s children were affected by the closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home,” says Homan.
But the Governor said he was acting in the best interest of the children when reports surfaced about the treatment of residents at the facility.
“Theres been a number of children who have been held for a length of time in solitary confinement, they were denied education they were entitled to, and in some cases they were abused and we don`t want that to continue. We want to do what`s in the best interest of the children,” said Branstad.
The Governor said he plans to meet with the Attorney General to consider the next step.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are also considering a bill to reconfigure and modernize the juvenile home. A hearing on that legislation is expected in the next couple weeks.