State appeals broadband ruling

It didn’t take long for the state to respond to Wednesday’s court ruling — which once again voided the Idaho Education Network contract.

Attorneys for the state filed a notice of appeal of District Judge Patrick Owen’s ruling, which buys the state a 14-day stay.

In his ruling, Owen’s reaffirmed his November ruling to throw out the 2009 broadband contract — and without a contract, broadband service for Idaho high schools and state agencies is in flux. (Click here for our full coverage of Wednesday’s ruling.)

If the state winds up pursuing the appeal, this would kick the protracted legal battle over the $60 million contract back to the Idaho Supreme Court.

In other news on the broadband front, GOP legislative leaders issued a news release suggested they may put together a legislative interim committee to spend the summer studying flaws in the contracting system.

“We were all under the good faith assumption that the contracting process in place was one that protected the state from this type of mishandling,” House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said Thursday afternoon. “The process appears to need improvement and must be corrected.”

More reading: Here’s an email from Camille Wells of the Idaho Education Network, sent out late Wednesday afternoon to district superintendents, principals and technology directors:

Today the Department of Administration received final judgment in the long-standing lawsuit with Syringa Networks over the contracts establishing the Idaho Education Network. The district court clarified its Nov. 10, 2014 (ruling) and declared that the underlying contracts and the amendments are void. 

The state filed a notice of appeal today, which will provide a 14-day stay of the judge’s decision.

In anticipation of the judgment, the Idaho Education Network has been working closely with legislators, stakeholders, attorneys, and the governor’s office to identify and begin to pursue multiple paths forward to maintain network services to schools through the end of the school year and in the long-term.  We will keep you apprised of decisions and developments as they occur. 

We encourage administrators, educators, technology directors, and other users of the network to continue to communicate with legislators about network service needs in their district. 

We also encourage school districts to continue down the path of identifying an e-Rate eligible network service provider and filing a Form 470 should the state not be able to provide services as a state consortium next fiscal year.  Additional details about this contingency path were provided to districts in a Jan. 9, 2015 letter from the IEN, State Department of Education, and Idaho Education Technology Association. Questions regarding e-Rate filing may be directed to Todd Lawrence, education technology coordinator at the State Department of Education, at (208) 332-6959 or [email protected].

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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