Center for Worker Justice files complaint against superintendent after family resource coordinator put on leave

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ICCSD Superintendent Stephen Murley -- file photo
ICCSD Superintendent Stephen Murley — file photo

Update: The ICCSD responded to the CWJ press release by stating, “The District does not comment on pending personnel matters because we are obligated to protect the privacy of all involved. There are procedures in place that are being followed and we hope the matters will be resolved in the coming weeks.”

The Eastern Iowa Center for Worker Justice (CWJ) has lodged a formal complaint against Stephen Murley, superintendent of the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) for an alleged violation of district policy. In a May 2 letter, the CWJ claims the violation occurred when Superintendent Murley placed Homeless Liaison and Family Resource Center Coordinator Stephanie Van Housen on administrative leave. Mazahir Salih, President of Eastern Iowa CWJ, said the appendix 6 complaint is being brought forth because the actions of the superintendent “have seriously degraded the quality and level of services available to low-income and minority families in the district.”

The Eastern Iowa CWJ claims that Van Housen was put on leave by the superintendent following a request for classroom space at Grant Wood School for a meeting “to talk with residents of Rose Oaks apartments who were facing eviction and dislocation, and whose children attend Grant Wood School.”

The letter from CWJ explains that Van Housen’s request for the room was denied. Van Housen then contacted a city staff member for a clarification of the terms of use for the public-funded community room. Salih asserted in the open letter that, “Ms. Van Housen’s request for clarification” was “a key factor” in the superintendent’s action to place Van Housen on leave.

Superintendent Stephen Murley could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Van Housen was the 2015 recipient of the Iowa City Human Rights Commission Rick Graf Award for her commitment to human rights advocacy. In addition to serving as the homeless children’s coordinator for ICCSD, Van Housen has been a family and child advocate at Grant Wood Elementary School as well as the youth soccer coordinator.

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