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AUDIO RECORDING OF IDAHO CHARTER SCHOOL COMMISSION CLOSED-DOOR MEETING SPARKS OUTRAGE

June 21, 2019

JEROME ID – In an April 11, 2019 Idaho Public Charter School Commission Meeting, Commissioners and state-paid Commission employees are caught on tape making disparaging comments about many of the schools they oversee, including Heritage Academy in Jerome. Commissioners also took potshots at the Jerome School District and the residents of Jerome.

Idaho Open Meeting law allows public boards and commissions to discuss a limited number of issues such as protected student records, in closed meetings. However, the Commissioners and their staff members used the guise of discussing student data to talk about individual schools, school employees, school boards, communities and state education organizations outside of the public's view.  In addition, Commissioners and staff members deliberated and planned actions that are only allowed to be discussed in an open forum where Idaho's citizens can observe, comment, and remain informed.

During the closed door meeting, commissioners slammed the residents of Jerome with Commission Chairman, Alan Reed asking "What are we going to do with that town?" and stating that he wouldn't consider opening one of his ice cream shops in Jerome because "ice cream doesn't build brain cells."  Another commissioner said if she lived in Jerome she would definitely send her children to a different town for school.  

The executive session, also included a number of factually incorrect statements about Heritage Academy and it’s administrator.  Because of the commissioner bias towards the residents of Jerome and unethical behavior, The Heritage Board of Directors does not believe the current Commission and its staff are capable of providing proper leadership for Idaho’s public charter schools. Chairman of the Heritage Academy Public School Board, Mr. Carroll Cone, added that the school district is working with its attorney and has already contacted Attorney General Lawrence Wasden's office to file a complaint. Mr. Cone said, “It is very concerning that individuals like those who participated in the discussion have been appointed or hired. It is my hope that these individuals could be replaced with those who support all Idaho public schools, not just those they consider high-performing.”

Longtime Jerome resident Anneli Crouch has children attending both Jerome School District and Heritage Academy. She said she is angered and feels betrayed that officials entrusted to serve our state would behave in such an unethical manner.  “It is concerning for the Jerome community and for all of the communities criticized and slandered by the comments of Commissioners and their staff members.  Our children and our communities deserve better.”

According to Heritage Academy’s general counsel Joe Borton, it is not yet clear whether this violation was an isolated event, and an investigation has been opened to uncover the complete scope of violations which may have impacted the school.  The Idaho attorney general’s office and state legislators are aware of the problem and are expected to address this conduct immediately. Mr. Borton may be contacted at (208)908-4415.

 

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