The U-S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights is investigating whether Iowa State University responded appropriately to reports of sexual violence against students. The school confirmed today (Thursday) that the federal agency is investigating its handling of a 2014 assault of a female student by a male student. An October 15th letter from the agency to I-S-U President Steven Leath says investigators will look into whether the school has failed to "promptly and equitably" respond to complaints of sexual violence, including the female student's report. A school spokesperson says that an investigation by campus police has led to a criminal charge against the male student, and the student faces a disciplinary hearing next month.
Governor Terry Branstad has named a longtime staffer Jerry Bartruff as acting director of the Iowa Department of Corrections. Bartruff will replace retiring director John Baldwin, who served in the role since 2007. His first day as acting director will be tomorrow (Friday). Bartruff has worked in the department since 1982, most recently as deputy director for operations in the department's eastern region. Branstad called Bartruff a "capable professional" who could handle the transition. Retiring director Baldwin appeared before lawmakers earlier this week to discuss the long-delayed Iowa State Penitentiary. Baldwin said he doesn't know when the facility will open, noting officials are studying a potential solution to a faulty smoke control system. The prison in Fort Madison was scheduled to open last March.
A former school worker in the Garner-Hayfield school district has been given probation and a suspended jail sentence for Medicaid fraud. K-I-M-T T-V reports Brooke Banse was given a year of probation, 180 days in jail and fined 625-dollars. The jail time and fine were suspended. Banse had pleaded guilty to fraudulent practices after prosecutors lowered the charge and dropped another. The 31-year-old Banse had been a student advocate for the Garner-Hayfield school district. Prosecutors say Banse submitted records and received federal Medicaid payments for services she did not provide.
Testing is underway on a project in central Iowa that could reduce the number of traffic crashes during snow storms. Iowa Department of Transportation engineer Willy Sorenson says the idea involves the use of sensors and lasers to monitor winter pavement conditions. A mathematic formula then calculates an "advised" slower speed limit which is posted on digital signs along Interstate 35. On an icy day, for example, the signs might suggest a speed limit of 55 miles an mile. The project involves four digital signs along an 11-mile stretch of I-35 between Ankeny and Huxley. The area was chosen because it's one of the most dangerous stretches of interstate in Iowa, especially in the winter. Sorenson hopes to expand the project next year.