Open Enrollment Issues for Des Moines Family

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DES MOINES, Iowa - A metro family is upset after learning a request to leave the Des Moines School District was denied.

Mysty Peterson wanted to take her children, 11-year-old Tytin and 10-year-old Sloan, from DMPS and open enroll them into a home-based online program called the Iowa Connection Academy operated under the CAM school district.

Both kids have been accepted into the CAM District, but when Mysty requested open enrollment out of Des Moines it was denied.

"I don`t understand how Des Moines Public Schools feels they have the power to say where a parent has to send their child to school," says Peterson.

Phil Roeder with Des Moines Public Schools says this is because of the districts diversity plan, which is based on socioeconomic status.

"The goal of this is really to maintain some balance in the diversity of our schools across the district.," says Roeder.

Denied open enrollment out of the district isn't uncommon.

In the 2014-2015 school year 384 requests came in and only 124 were approved.

Mysty said her son suffers from ADHD and has a doctor's note suggesting at home learning would be a better environment, Roeder says the district can offer that.

"In this particular instance, this is a service the district can provide and provide well for the student.  Des Moines Public Schools has a home instruction program for students who are learning at home," says Roeder.

However, Mysty isn't comfortable home-schooling her children, the CAM program offers satellite learning with teachers provided.

"I took every step they told me to take but now I`m out of options and people don`t know how to fight something so big, Des Moines Public Schools is huge, how do you fight that," says Peterson.

Mysty is appealing the decision by the district.

She also will have the option to appeal again to the State Department of Education.



  • iambatwomanyo

    That’s really messed up! Who do you think you are DSMPS? If that’s how a mother is comfortable and feels safe educating her kids at home online, who the heck are you to tell her otherwise. I almost had to do the same thing when they threatened to make all 3 of my kids go to different schools! Not happening and thankfully I got them all that the best school in my area! Still it seemed so much better when I was a kid.

    • Mr. N

      CAM = Cumberland-Anita-Massena, which is a school is Southern Iowa.
      Iowa Connections Academy is owned by a corporation (Connections Education, LLC) in Maryland.
      CAM receives the full state funding (roughly $6500 per student), they keep roughly 5% for “administrative fees” and the remaining 95% is sent on to the Maryland based company that delivers the instruction online.

  • Right Wing Patriot

    Who the heck are you Phil Roeder?! The DMPS is garbage and everyone knows it. This mom should have the right to place her kids where she wants.


    So here’s the deal, DMPS is not really concerned with the best interests of kids with disabilities like ADHD.

    My child, who has ADHD, was suspended last year for falling out of their chair and being disruptive while there was a substitute teacher… at least that was the school’s story.

    The real story is that one of the teachers was unwilling to work around the issues and challenges ADHD presents, not only for others but for the child as well. When I pulled my child from the class, because they were unwilling to recognize and help with this doctor diagnosed disorder (which is illegal to do, as stated in the Americans with Disabilities Act), that’s when my child was suspended.

    They claimed my child had been having behavioral issues, but the other teachers disagreed that that was the case. All in all, if your child is different in any way, shape, or form DMPS will do everything they can to make your child’s life harder, even if it means breaking the law.

  • Megan

    I know exactly what the mom is going thru. I too requested open enrollment from DMPS tohomeschool my children who was already accepted thru K12 and a school that would work with us. I was denied as well. I also questioned why they were taking the desicion away from me as their mother on where my kids went to school. So now I have them signed up thru DMPS homeschooling… Guess that’s better than them going to the buildings.

  • Kat

    DMPS is TERRIBLE. We moved from a great district & it was the biggest mistake! DMPS=garbage. Look at their ratings-no wonder everyone is heading west. Special needs students suffer terribly at this district. They dont approve open enrollment for monetary reasons alone.

    • JohnW

      I think that is the root of the matter. If you have income and pay taxes, they are going to fight to keep you from moving your student to another district.

  • paulaas

    We had the same problem with DMPS – enrolled instead in an online private school but are considered “homeschooled” – too bad though because CAM sounds like a good offering and FREE if only DMPS would let the students open enroll. “Diversity Plan” = if you are even close to working middle class, you cannot leave the district. If you are poor, you cannot get in. That is how “Minority” is defined after the Supreme Court made the last definition of “Minority ” (based on race) unconstitutional. Apparently since economic status is not a protected class DMPS feels justified by discriminating against the family based on income. Ironic given that in Des Moines a majority at most schools meet the definition of “Minority” in the Diversity Plan. What diversity is achieved through a systematic program to DENY free choice? DMPS is a now essentially a closed system designed to only let the lower income out of district and keep everyone else in. Read it yourself

  • Katie

    I like how the one good school that DMPS can toot their horn about-Cowels Montessori.
    , no one can even get into. Jeez, a quality education for only a lucky few….

  • Mysty Peterson

    I just dont understand how DMPS can hold any family hostage. And force anyone to HAVE to send their children to these schools.

  • Mysty Peterson

    It is about numbers and numbers only, enrolment numbers, graduation numbers, and dollar signs. They SAY it is about the kids, but I can tell you it is not. They are letting kids that can’t even read graduate. This all for THEIR numbers. They do not care about the fact that they are setting these young people up for failure.

    • Megan

      I too was denied open enrollment for my kids to attend they K12. My 15 yr old has said if she has to go back to the buildings, she will drop out. I ended up going thru the homeschooling program that DMPS has to offer. They have 3 different ways you can go. For my youngest going into 5th grade, I am doing the assistance one. This will give me someone to come and help me figure out the lesson plans and get the loaner books for me. You can also do the dual assistance where the child goes to the buildings for certain classes, while you do the rest at home. The last way, is the way I’m going with my oldest, who will be in 10th. Its where I do what I want with her. I don’t have to answer to the school, or to the state.

  • Laurie

    They dont want to lose the money per child so they deny the open enrollment. My nephew was trying to open enroll to the same online school and was denied because he’s white and middle class.

  • MadMom

    I also applied for open enrollment out of the DMPS this year and was denied. I got my form in way ahead of time, crossed all my T’s and dotted my I’s like I was supposed to. My son on the early graduate track and has 5 credits left before he graduates at 16. He wanted to go on with his life and quit wasting it in high school. Seems like DMPS would rather risk the kids quitting high school than allow them the choice on how they would like to finish. We explored all kinds of options after he was denied and finally landed on duel enrolling so he could finish his remaining credits through Iowa Online Learning. Did you know the Iowa Department of Education will not allow you to take the high school equivalency test at age 16 unless you have a parole officer? AND even if you take the test, you can’t have the diploma until your graduating class actually graduates? What a complete disservice to the gifted/talented kids who just want to move on to the college level.

  • heather

    Newton School District denied my open enrollment as well, however K12 online school said it didn’t matter. I should say in the end it didn’t matter because K12 and Iowa Connections Academy both follow Common Core. We thought it was best we just homeschool our children.

  • Melissa

    I tried to pull my son out in the middle of the year (not in DMPS district) because he was having a lot of problems in school because of some family matters and they would not let me. They told me it was a family matter and not a school issue (even though his attendance and grades were suffering) Got him into IACA through CAM for this next school year (I did this schooling with my ADHD daughter this last school year and it was awesome, she got all A’s and B’s for the entire year) the teachers are absolutely wonderful, and they bend over backwards to help you in your role as a learning coach and help your child. This school is worth it, Yes it is and can be a lot of work as a learning coach. Keep trying if this school appeals to you. I encourage you to keep fighting. I do not plan on taking my kids out of this schooling if I don’t have to, and since they are now both enrolled, even if I do move back to DMPS district since they are already in I won’t have to worry about fighting for them to get in it again. I may be able to help answer any questions about Connections for anyone that is interested.

  • KB

    My cousin enrolled her kid in that Iowa Virtual Academy through the K12 online school and was approved, and DMPS will not allow her kid to withdrawl from the public school system even though the IVAP program is a online public school program. SHe is appealing as well. They just do not want to admit their system sucks. How do you prepare a kid for college when you allow them to take tests over and over until they get the grade they want? It is not like that in College. they are teaching NO RESPONSIBILITY at all to these kids. Hey remember that test at the beginning of the year that you failed? Don’t worry you can re take it before the last day of school as many times as you want to until you get it right. Bull crap right there.

  • rose

    They did same to me till I took it to the state board of education. My son was being bullied in school his grades went from honor roll to failing in his school. After taking it to board I was able to put my son in a school we were comfortable with yes I have to provide our own transportation. But my sons grades have came back up and he is much happier now

  • rose

    But I would like to add that I tried to also go for homeschooling thru DMPS and I quote their words to me is ” Your child may go to home schooling but yourchild will NOT rreceive a high school diploma cause it don’t mean they graduate for that they have to be enrolled in a school to do that” so what the hell we supposed to do cause they won’t let open enroll out of district an DMPS homeschooling doesn’t graduate them

  • Lavonne Nelson Schroeter

    Any parents who would apply for open enrollment out of the CAM (Cumberland/Anita/Massena) district would be granted the right to do so. Any request out of a small school district, by law, has to be granted no matter what the reason. There has been discrimination with the open enrollment policies of this state since day one. Especially against the small school districts. I wish this family good luck on getting this overturned. The program being run out of the CAM district seems to be working.

  • Mysty Peterson

    Thank you all for your advice. I will continue to appeal, I can’t believe how helpless I feel. I am just in shock that they have the power to tell me where my children can or can not go to school. I am just baffled. I can and will appeal to the Department of education, but was told they only look at a few cases each year.

    • rose

      Keep fighting it mysty do NOT let them win. Your children have a right to behappy in school. But dDMPS homeschooling won’t give ur children a high school diploma. Least with ICA they will get a diploma. You should feel comfortable with their education. My son was bullied an it took me going to the state board of education. My son got suicidal because of the bullying. An even though the school councilor was the one who called me to tell me that he was depressed an suicidal. Yet when I asked for the documentation from the school of the proof that they are the ones who called me about it conviently they didn’thave any record of the bullying or the call or email from the councilor. Yet they had it documented that he refused an mouthed off toa teacher over a stupid writing asassignment he refused to do cause the teacher was making students right about their personal life at home. Which he told he no my home life is none of ur business”

    • heather

      May I ask what Connections Academy told you about the denial? The K12 school assured me it meant nothing for the releasing school district to deny open enrollment.

      • Mysty Peterson

        Heather, CAM will not allow my children into their program if DMPS doesn’t allow my children to enroll out of the district.

  • Jessica Bowman

    The truth here is that the school gets funds from the state for every student enrolled. They get MORE if they child has a learning disability, are in poverty, or have certain medical disabilities (such as ADHD). I can only assume this is the real reason they pick and choose who to allow open enrollment.

  • me

    My son has never stepped foot in the DMPS . If we wanted to open enroll to do online, and they dIdn’t let us, we would just continue to home school. We would sue DMPS for the cost of doing the accredited program when our son gets to high school since DMPS can’t grant a diploma to homeschoolers. Your child is entitled to a good education. Your tax dollars pay for it so you should be able to decide where you want your child educated.

  • happymomof2

    Mysty- there are other online schools that do not go through any public school district. They do have tuition you will have to pay. If you find one you want to enroll in, you will be considered homeschooling. Once a child is in 9th grade and not taking all classes at a suburban or DMPS a child cannot graduate from the local high school. This is an agreement the schools have with each other. However, if you go to the smaller towns around Iowa, if you work with the superindentents or principals from the school, they might let you graduate from the high school. It is a school decision.

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