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What's New at Dubuque Community Schools

Hawkins Named Dubuque’s Next Superintendent of Schools

Amy Hawkins Photo

Amy Hawkins

The Dubuque Community School District Board of Education voted unanimously today to appoint Amy Hawkins as the district’s new superintendent of schools, effective July 1. Hawkins will succeed Stan Rheingans, who will leave the district at the conclusion of the school year to become the new Chief Administrator of Keystone Area Education Agency.

“The Board is confident that Amy is the right person to continue the positive momentum of the district and to lead it into the future,” said Board President Kate Parks. “Amy is an experienced, well-respected administrator who brings a collaborative leadership style focused on always putting students first. She is deeply rooted in the district and Dubuque community, and has a clear commitment to enhancing the Dubuque educational experience for each student we serve. We are excited for her to assume this role.”

Hawkins is currently the chief human resources officer for the district, a role in which she oversees all human resources operations for the approximately 2,000 employees in the district. This includes district-wide planning and coordination of staff recruitment, retention, budgeting, performance evaluation management, employee relations and personnel management.

“I look forward to collaborating with our staff, families and community as we continue the important, challenging and rewarding work of ensuring success for each and every student we serve,” said Hawkins. “The success of the Dubuque Community School District is deeply personal to me and I couldn’t be more honored to lead the district into the future.”

Prior to her chief human resources officer role, Hawkins served as the district’s director of activities and athletics. In this role, she served on the district’s executive leadership team and oversaw all aspects of the district’s extracurricular programming as well as the development and implementation of wellness/health curriculum and English Language Learners (ELL) programming.

She was responsible for all aspects of these programs, including hiring, evaluating and mentoring of staff, budget planning and oversight, and delivery of professional development. Hawkins was also the district administrator working with the school board’s Activity Council, and she has been instrumental in the design and upgrade of numerous athletic facilities.

Before serving as director of activities and athletics, Hawkins was a district-level teacher on special assignment from 2010-2012. She began her career in the Dubuque Community School District in 1997 as a wellness teacher at Dubuque Senior High School, later becoming department chair at the school. She has also been both an assistant and head coach for the Dubuque Senior High School Girl’s Volleyball Team, and was named Mississippi Valley Coach of the Year in 2005. From 1998-2000, she was head coach of the Clarke University Women’s Volleyball Team.

Hawkins holds a bachelor’s degree from Winona State University and a master of arts degree in education from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) with Pre-K through 12 principal and Pre-K through 12 special education supervisor certification. She also holds an advanced studies certificate in superintendency from UNI.

Dubuque Community School District Names Superintendent Finalists

Dubuque, Iowa – Since November, the Dubuque Community School District Board of Education has been engaged in the process of selecting the district’s next Superintendent of Schools. The next superintendent will succeed Stan Rheingans, who will leave the district at the conclusion of the school year to become the new Chief Administrator of Keystone Area Education Agency.

The district received 16 applications for the superintendent position, coming from seven states. The Board was very pleased with the high-quality caliber of the candidate pool. Eight candidates had previous superintendent experience, six candidates had central office experience, and all candidates had significant administrative experience.

The Board conducted screening interviews with seven semifinalists and is pleased to announce the three finalists for the position. They are:

Amy Hawkins

Amy Hawkins Photo

Amy Hawkins

Amy Hawkins currently serves as the chief human resources officer for the Dubuque Community School District in Dubuque, Iowa, a role she has held since 2019. Prior to that, she served as the district’s director of activities and athletics from 2012-2019, as well as the district’s wellness and health curriculum coordinator from 2010-2019. In these roles, she also served as the project director of the district’s LEAP Enrichment Program from 2017-2019 and as the English Language Learners (ELL) curriculum coordinator from 2018-2019. Prior to her administrative roles, she was a wellness teacher and coach at Dubuque Senior High School. Hawkins holds a master of arts in education degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a bachelor of science degree in teaching from Winona State University.

Kent Mutchler

Kent Mutchler Photo

Kent Mutchler

Kent Mutchler currently serves as the superintendent of Geneva Community Unit School District 304 in Geneva, Ill., a role he has held since 2006. Prior to that, he served as superintendent at Ankeny Community Schools in Ankeny, Iowa, from 2002-2006 and Oelwein Community Schools I Oelwein, Iowa from 1998-2002. He served as assistant superintendent in the Spencer Community School District in Spencer, Iowa, from 1993-1998 and principal at Guthrie Center Community High School in Guthrie Center, Iowa, from 1989-1993. He was athletic director and social studies teacher at Storm Lake Community High School from 1988-1989 and taught social studies at Clarion Community High School in Clarion, Iowa from 1986-1989. Mutchler holds a bachelor of arts degree from Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa, a master of arts degree from Iowa State University, master’s degrees in education (Ed.S. and MSE) from Drake University, and a doctor of education degree also from Drake.

R. Chace Ramey

R. Chace Ramey Photo

R. Chace Ramey

R. Chace Ramey currently serves as deputy superintendent for the Iowa City Community School District in Iowa City, Iowa, a role he has held since 2018. Prior to this role, he served as assistant superintendent for human resources for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Va., from 2016-2018 and was chief human resources officer for Iowa City Community Schools from 2012-2015. He was chief of staff for the Kansas City Public Schools from 2010-2012, director of student services for University Academic Charter School LEA in Kansas City, Mo., from 2008-2010 was assistant director and director for the Academic Achievement Program for the University of Iowa College of Law. Ramey holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Kansas, a juris doctorate from the University of Iowa, and a doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Iowa.

Finalist interviews will be conducted on Monday, Feb. 21 (Mutchler); Tuesday, Feb. 22 (Ramey); and Thursday, Feb. 24 (Hawkins), with each finalist meeting with interview teams comprised of district staff, parents and community partners. Each candidate will conclude their day with an interview with the Board of Education.


Contact Tracing Update (January 21, 2022)

On Wednesday, the Dubuque County Board of Health voted to support a proposal from the Dubuque County Public Health Incident Management Team to suspend contact tracing efforts for positive COVID-19 cases.

By Iowa Code, the Dubuque Community School District cannot engage in contact tracing and investigation without the involvement of a public health agency. Currently, the district contact traces as an extension of the Dubuque County Health Department / Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and, as such, will also suspend contact tracing in schools.

The district’s protocols for those who test positive for COVID-19 or those with symptoms of illness have not changed.

In place of contact-tracing efforts, the Dubuque Incident Management Team will increase promotion of quarantine and isolation guidance as well as the Dubuque County COVID-19 “hotline” for questions and support.

The team’s recommendation follows recent decisions by other Iowa counties to suspend contact tracing, including Linn County and Johnson County, and is based on the increased level of community spread of COVID and the increased difficulty in reaching positive individuals.

Additional reasons cited by the incident management team include:

  • A delay in information sharing and reporting by state public health with local public health which prevents contact during the first 24-48 hours after diagnosis, the most critical period for spread.
  • An increasing percentage of contact tracing calls to residents by Dubuque County Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) staff that go unanswered.
  • New testing options like rapid at-home tests that are reducing the number of positive cases reported to public health, preventing contact tracing with these individuals.

The district, and schools throughout Dubuque County, are also experiencing these issues and support the change.

Updated CDC COVID-19 Isolation Guidance (January 7, 2022)

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance that reduces the isolation period for someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

The Dubuque County Health Department, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the CDC are all in alignment regarding this guidance and beginning Monday, Jan. 10, the guidance allows individuals to return after 5 days as follows:

Based on guidance from the CDC, IDPH and Dubuque County Health Department, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be instructed to self-isolate for at least 5 calendar days following the onset of symptoms OR 5 calendar days following the date the positive test was administered if the individual is asymptomatic. (Day 0 is the first day of symptoms or the date the positive test was administered if asymptomatic.)

Individuals may return to school after the 5 calendar days if ALL THREE of the following are true:

  • The individual’s symptoms are resolving or the individual continues to have no symptoms if asymptomatic
  • The individual continues to wear a mask around others for an additional 5 calendar days
  • The individual is fever free for 24 hours (one full day) without fever-reducing medication.

If all three of the requirements above are not met, an individual needs to isolate for the full 10 calendar days.

The guidance above will be provided to individuals who test positive for COVID-19 when they are contacted by the Dubuque County Health Department/Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) for contact tracing.

During the contact tracing process, the VNA will also give guidance for identified unvaccinated, household close contacts that their quarantine period will also be 5 calendar days with wearing a mask around others for an additional 5 calendar days.

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2022-2023 Free Four-Year-Old Preschool Registration Begins Monday, Jan. 10

Registration for free four-year-old preschool in the Dubuque Community School District will begin on Monday, Jan. 10. This includes 12 Dubuque public elementary schools offering preschool through the Statewide Voluntary Free Preschool Program. (Please note that due to space constraints, Hoover Elementary School will not offer preschool programming for the 2022-2023 school year.)

Parents and guardians may register students in person at the selected site, beginning at 7 a.m. on Monday, January 10.

Proof-of-age, preferably a birth certificate, is required to register a student. Other accepted proof-of-age documents include a passport or signed immunization record.

Preschool registration paperwork is available to complete in advance beginning on the district’s preschool webpage or in-person at all elementary schools. You can also find registration details and forms, as well as additional preschool information, online at

Read More about “2022-2023 Free Four-Year-Old Preschool Registration Begins Monday, Jan. 10”

New High School Athletics Live Streaming Option!

The Dubuque Community School District is pleased to announce a new live-streaming service that will give families, friends and supporters the chance to view high school athletic contests online from anywhere.

The service will add four district facilities to the National Federation of State High School Association streaming network with the addition of Pixellot live stream cameras in the following facilities: Dalzell Field and Nora Gymnasium at Dubuque Senior High School and the District Aquatic Center and Moody Gymnasium at Hempstead High School.

Through this enhancement, viewers will be able to follow sophomore- and varsity-level competitions in these locations beginning this winter sports season.

Subscriptions to the NFHS Network are available for $10.99/month or $69.99 each year, and are made directly through the NFHS website.


Subscriptions include both live competitions and on-demand viewing of past events for contests played at the district’s four sites, as well as at any other high school across the state and country that is part of the NFHS Network.

We are excited to provide this opportunity to access live-streamed events in addition to watching our athletic competitions in person. Thank you for your continued support of the Dubuque Senior Rams and the Hempstead Mustangs!

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Mask Update: October 11, 2021

Tonight, at the October 11 Board of Education meeting, the Board voted to use the district’s COVID-19 dashboard data to determine mask requirements on a per building basis beginning Monday, Oct. 18.

The following criteria will be used to determine if/when masks are required on a per building basis:

The district will enact a temporary mask requirement for employees, students and visitors in any district building that reaches 3.0% or higher of active, positive cases of students/staff in that building. If enacted, it will remain in effect until the percent of active, positive cases lowers below 3.0%.

There will be exemptions in place for medical, religious, brain health or other reasons at the discretion of the superintendent or designee.

This district monitors the percentage of student/staff active, positive cases on a daily basis and will communicate with a building if/when this temporary mask requirement is put in effect.

Currently, no district building exceeds 1.18% of active, positive cases.

Additional information will be available later this week regarding the process to apply for an exemption from this requirement.

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Mask Update: September 16, 2021

Dear Dubuque Schools Families and Staff,

Since the news was announced late Monday afternoon regarding federal court Judge Pratt issuing a temporary restraining order on Iowa’s law banning school districts from requiring the wearing of masks at school, our district team has been working on this issue.

We understand the issue of masks has become very polarizing in our community, state and nation and we want to make sure we move forward in a process-driven and transparent way. We have a responsibility as a district to take all factors into account in order to make decisions that are both in alignment with the law and in the best interests of our students and staff.

In the past 48+ hours, we have consulted with the district’s legal counsel and talked with many representatives from other school districts, our state association, and health officials. We have also received significant feedback from families and staff on both sides of this issue – and we want you to know that this feedback has been heard.

As we look at our direction moving forward, it is important to provide context on the laws public school districts are required to adhere to and Judge Pratt’s most recent court ruling:

  • As a public school district, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that students with disabilities are provided with a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
  • In the latest federal court decision, Judge Pratt finds that disabled students’ civil rights under federal law are violated by the prohibition of mask mandates.
  • The ruling states this is because these students are denied an equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from the school environment due to severe risk of illness.
  • Judge Pratt also states that requiring masks in schools constitutes a reasonable accommodation to allow disabled and immunocompromised students access to the school environment.

Following the judge’s decision, the district sought a legal opinion from both the district’s general counsel, as well as the district’s special education attorney.

Based on the court ruling, both attorneys independently concurred that by not having a mask mandate in place for all students, the district would be exposing itself to potential liability for discrimination and violation of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The district must now consider next steps given this latest ruling related to masks. In order to do so, the School Board will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 20, in the Hempstead High School Auditorium to consider the attorneys’ conclusion and take possible action. The meeting will be live streamed on the district’s Facebook and Twitter pages. View the meeting agenda.

We move forward knowing that there is a long-standing sense of pride in the Dubuque community and deep desire to put students first, despite varying opinions.

As we navigate these never-before-seen challenges, and recognizing that the requirements before us may continue to change and evolve, let’s move forward leading by example for our students and community – with respect, compassion and dignity.

Stan Rheingans
Superintendent of Schools

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Mask Update: September 13, 2021

Late this afternoon, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Iowa law that bans school districts from mandating masks.

As you can imagine, we have already received a significant amount of feedback on both sides of this issue.

We wanted you to know that we are working to gain additional clarity around the details of this restraining order and the legal process moving forward.

We will also be seeking guidance from our legal counsel and state associations as we discuss next steps, and we will share additional information with you as it becomes available.