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Branstad seeks to overturn Iowa Juvenile Home order

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad on Friday asked the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s order to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home.

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Branstad is being represented by the Iowa attorney general in the appeal. In a press release, Branstad said the children who had been living at the home in Toledo were not receiving the education and care they needed.

“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.

Branstad closed the home in January following allegations that teens were improperly treated and denied a proper education.

Four Democrats, two from the Senate and two from the House, and the president of a state workers’ union sued Branstad and Charles Palmer, the Iowa Department of Human Services director, to keep the home open.

A district court judge on Wednesday ordered the state to reopen the home, telling Branstad he could not unilaterally change a law approved by the Legislature. Judge Scott Rosenberg said the home was created by the Legislature with approval of the executive branch. More than $8.8 million was approved by the Legislature to run it and cannot be eliminated by the governor or executive branch officials, he said.

Of the 21 girls who had been living at the home, six have been sent home, two placed in detention centers for delinquent youth and the others were moved into a mix of public and private facilities around the state, a DHS spokeswoman has said.

Sen. Jack Hatch, a Des Moines Democrat and candidate for governor, called the governor’s decision “unfortunate.”