Model Legislation to Address Government-Imposed Educational Deed Restrictions

On May 17, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law SF 2368, a new bill which will expand educational opportunities within the state. The bill will prohibit a practice used to quash competition: public school districts preventing the sale of their vacant old buildings to private or charter schools.

In January 2023, Iowa adopted the Students First Act, an Education Savings Account (ESA) program that gives students funds for educational expenses, such as tuition and textbooks, at the nonpublic school of their choice. But after the ESA was passed, local school districts tried to suppress competition by imposing discriminatory deed restrictions when selling their old buildings, to prevent them from ever being used as private or charter schools. SF 2368 will end that practice statewide.

Leading up to the bill’s passage, the Liberty Justice Center analyzed other states’ efforts to end discriminatory deed restrictions and provided Iowan educational advocates with model legislation to address the issue. Those groups then lobbied for school choice bills before the state legislature, eventually contributing to the passage of SF 2368.

“Government-imposed educational deed restrictions are indefensible—they burden communities with blight and deny educational opportunities to kids,” said Educational Freedom Attorney Dean McGee. “We encourage all states to remove arbitrary barriers that hinder educational entrepreneurs.”

“When Iowa passed the universal ESA law last year, one of the unanticipated consequences was public schools circling the wagons and not allowing private schools to purchase empty buildings. Although the path to getting the bill passed was arduous, we are ecstatic to see it implemented. I am grateful to Dean McGee and the Liberty Justice Center for their help increasing our state’s school choice capacity and the opportunity for families to have more educational freedom,” said Walt Rogers, former Iowa State Representative and current Policy Director at Inspired Life Iowa, one of the groups that lobbied for the law’s passage.

The Liberty Justice Center continues to fight for educational opportunity across the country, through cases defending students’ rights to free speech, empowering disabled students to access equal educational opportunities, increasing access to scholarship programs, affirming parents’ right to be involved in their children’s education, and more.


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Sent to

Iowan Educational Advocates



May 17, 2024



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