Ybarra has missed 12 State Board meetings since 2015

State superintendent Sherri Ybarra, left, and Democratic challenger Cindy Wilson.

State superintendent Sherri Ybarra has missed a dozen State Board of Education meetings since taking office, the second-worst attendance record on the board.

Ybarra’s attendance became an election issue in recent weeks. After the Republican Ybarra missed part of a June State Board meeting to prepare to go on vacation, Democratic challenger Cindy Wilson fired off a news release labeling Ybarra a “no-show superintendent.”

This week, Idaho Education News reviewed minutes for the 59 State Board meetings that have taken place since January 2015, when Ybarra took office.

Here’s the attendance record:


Board member Meetings attended Total meetings Attendance rate
Don Soltman 59 59 100.0
Debbie Critchfield 57 59 96.6
Richard Westerberg 57 59 96.6
Emma Atchley 56 59 94.9
Linda Clark 46 49 93.9
David Hill 48 59 81.4
Sherri Ybarra 47 59 79.7
Andy Scoggin 26 35 74.3

Clark and Scoggin are more recent appointees to the board — and as such, have attended fewer meetings than Ybarra and her colleagues. Clark was appointed in July 2015, while she was still superintendent of the West Ada School District. Scoggin, an Albertsons executive, was appointed in August 2016.

Scoggin has missed nearly as many meetings in his two years on the board as Ybarra has missed over 3 1/2 years.

The board member with the perfect attendance record, Soltman, lives the farthest from the board’s Boise headquarters. He lives in Twin Lakes, a small community near Coeur d’Alene.

Board members travel to some meetings, but not all of them.

The board’s regular meetings are held on college and university campuses across the state, and the board also holds special meetings throughout the year — especially during the legislative session. The board held one such special meeting Friday afternoon, a two-hour closed executive session to discuss an undisclosed University of Idaho personnel matter.

It’s allowed, and common, for out-of-town board members to participate in these special meetings by phone.

While the state superintendent’s main job is to oversee the State Department of Education and its staff of about 140 employees, the State Board appointment gives the superintendent a vote on a powerful panel that charts K-12 and higher education policy.

And the state superintendent is guaranteed a seat on the State Board upon election. By contrast, the governor appoints the remaining seven board members, and they are subject to Senate confirmation.

Ybarra’s office emailed a brief comment to Idaho Education News on Tuesday afternoon.

“The superintendent is focused on doing her job. Part of that job is serving on the State Board of Education, and she takes it seriously.”

Idaho Education News data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report.


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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