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Iowa Supreme Court Rules Juvenile Home Lawsuit Should be Dismissed

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Supreme Court has reversed the decision of a lower court in a lawsuit over the closing of the Iowa Juvenile home, and instructed the lower court to dismiss the case.

Several lawmakers along with Danny Homan, President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, filed a lawsuit to keep the Iowa Juvenile Home open after Gov. Terry Branstad issued an executive order closing the facility. The governor made the decision after a report was made public of alleged abuse of patients by use of isolation rooms.

A district judge granted a temporary injunction to keep the home from closing and Branstad and the Department of Human Services appealed to the Supreme Court. A stay on the injunction was granted pending appeal.

In the meantime, the Legislature chose not to continue funding the Iowa Juvenile Home for the 2015 fiscal year. The facility closed in mid-January of 2014.

In the decision released Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court reverses the district court’s judgement and instructs the court to dismiss the case because it is moot and further action by the court would have no effect on the outcome.

Gov. Branstad's communications director issued the following statement after the ruling was released:

"Governor Branstad’s top priority has always been the health, safety and education of the girls formerly served at the Iowa Juvenile Home. The facts show delinquent girls and girls classified as Children in Need of Assistance (CINA) are being more effectively and accountably served by the private system now in place. Gov. Branstad is committed to ensuring Iowa responsibly meets the needs of delinquent youth in Iowa in both private and public capacities.  

We respect the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision upholding the actions taken to better serve Iowa’s youth.  In 2014, Gov. Branstad and the Iowa Legislature, in bipartisan fashion, agreed in moving the system forward by serving troubled youth in licensed and accredited facilities. Today, that action was upheld.

Now that the lawsuit is settled, we look forward to working with the Toledo-area community to find a sufficient use for the campus facilities."