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School mural controversy decision put on hold

East Mills schools won't paint over mural yet
Posted at 10:32 PM, Jul 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-16 23:32:07-04

A battle over a school mural in Mills County, Iowa was the main topic of discussion at the East Mills Community School District's board meeting Monday evening.

The school board wants to paint over a mural painted at the main lobby of East Mills Elementary School that depicts the merging of four schools from the 1960's. It was painted in 1993, but the district says the mural doesn't include the current district, therefore not inclusive to current students. 

The first portion of the board meeting included several testimonies from community members on whether or not to keep the mural. Some argued the mural doesn't include East Mills. Others said the mural depicts the early history of how East Mills came to be. 

Rich Erb, whose father painted the mural with one of his students, wants his dad's work to stay in tact. 

"It's a part of history that should stay up," said Erb. 

He and a handful of others who also believe the mural has too much history to be painted over, chipped in to hire Raymond Aranza as their lawyer, who says the district can't paint over it do the Visual Artists Rights Act, which preserves artists' rights to their work, regardless of who owns it. 

"You can't destroy it, you can't cover it up, and you can defile it in any way," argues Aranza. 

While some people in the audience suggested adding to the mural to include the Wolverines mascot and East Mills, the board ultimately decided to put the mural discussion on the back burner until the district attorney can take a closer look at the VARA Act. 

"If we do some things and change the murals, and make it an East Mills mural and it brings together five communities, if we had a painting that would do that and solve all of our problems, it would be a very wise investment for this district," said Superintendent Paul Croghan.