I.F. officials face civil complaint stemming from bond campaign

Idaho Falls’ outgoing superintendent and the district’s spokeswoman are facing a civil complaint, over the district’s unsuccessful November 2022 bond issue campaign.

Bonneville County Prosecutor Randy Neal says the district used public money to produce and distribute materials that advocated for the bond issue, Kaitlin Hart of East Idaho News reported Tuesday.

Neal is seeking civil penalties of up to $1,500 against Superintendent James Shank and Communications Director Margaret Wimborne.

According to the civil complaint, cited by East Idaho News, School District 91 used more than $14,000 of district money for a variety of purchases related to the bond issue election — including postage, posters, postcards, bookmarks and creation of a logo.

Shank and Wimborne “admitted to Bonneville County investigators that District 91 funds were used to produce District 91 Bond Issue material prior to the general election,” Neal says in his civil complaint.

Idaho Falls trustees deny any wrongdoing, and say the district provided only factual material in advance of the November election, Hart reported.

But in his complaint, Neal writes, “All bookmarks, postcards, and mailers produced and paid for by Idaho Falls School District 91 contain the words ‘Need,’ ‘Aged’ and ‘Overcrowding.’ which was contrary to advice of the district’s counsel.”

In November, Idaho Falls voters overwhelmingly rejected the district’s record $250 million bond issue.

Last week, Idaho Falls voters approved a $33 million plant facilities levy to build a new elementary school, with nearly 70% support. One day after the election, Neal filed his civil complaint.

Shank is leaving Idaho Falls for a superintendent’s post at North Beach School District in Ocean Shores, Wash.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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