Gov. Terry Branstad is appealing the decision of a district court judge that the Iowa Juvenile Home should be re-opened – taking the case to the Iowa Supreme Court.
Wednesday, Judge Scott Rosenberg ruled on a lawsuit filed by AFSCME President Danny Homan and four lawmakers including Sen. Jack Hatch. The group claimed the governor did not have the right to close the home because funding had been approved through next year by the Iowa Legislature.
In Judge Rosenberg’s decision he said, “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.”
The home was closed January 15th after an order from Gov. Branstad. He expressed concern over the care at the home after learning several children had been kept in isolation cells for months at a time.
Friday, Gov. Branstad said he’s had the Iowa Attorney General file an application for appeal in advance of final judgment with the Iowa Supreme Court.
“The children were subjected to over 47,000 hours of isolation, denied the education they deserve and mistreated by staff. As chief executive, I have the responsibility to ensure the safety of Iowa’s most vulnerable. These children are now in licensed and accredited facilities where they are being better served, receiving the education they were denied at the Iowa Juvenile Home and the treatment and care they need,” Branstad said in a statement released Friday.
Sen. Hatch released a response to the governor’s appeal Friday, “It is unfortunate that instead of trying to work together with the legislature to reopen a facility that his own Department of Human Services Director admitted needs to exist, he has decided to fight his responsibilities in court. Repeatedly the Governor has said that his only concern is to do what is in the best interests of the children, however, the facts show otherwise. Several children that were housed at the Iowa Juvenile Home and were placed in other facilities are now missing and those that are responsible for tracking them have no idea where they are. These girls need a safe place and all Governor Branstad is doing right now is delaying protecting these kids. Iowans should not have to take their Governor to court in order to get him to follow the law.”
The district court decision requires the plaintiffs file a bond before the judge’s order takes effect. Both parties have until March 3rd to submit documents pertaining to the bond amount.