Boise schools were sole ‘target’ of lawmaker’s indoctrination search

The Boise School District Services Center on Tuesday. Blake Jones/Idaho Education News

As of Monday, Rep. Priscilla Giddings’ $100,000-plus public records request for Boise school curriculum was the only one she made in her search for public school indoctrination throughout Idaho, an EdNews records request showed.

Co-chair to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin on the “Task Force to Examine Indoctrination in Idaho Education,” Giddings, R-White Bird, requested a batch of equity-focused teaching materials from the Boise School District via a May 26 public records request. On June 10, the district flagged the request to reporters, sending out a news release declaring that the Boise district was the task force’s “latest target.”

But it was previously unclear whether Giddings or McGeachin had submitted records requests to other districts in anticipation of the task force’s next meeting, scheduled for June 24, which will focus on alleged leftist teachings in K-12 public schools.

EdNews requested, through public records requests of its own, lists of all public records requests made by McGeachin’s office and Giddings from the beginning of 2021 through June 14. McGeachin’s office made no records requests over that span, and Giddings made only one — to Boise schools, records showed Tuesday.

Giddings’ one-district request

Giddings initially requested portions of Boise’s curriculum and classroom lessons from equity-focused programs including Learning for Justice and AVID, along with all materials used to teach English language learners. She also requested curriculum and lesson plans from the 1619 Project, a New York Times examination of racism in U.S. history — a national lightning rod for conservatives decrying the use of critical race theory in education — and the 1776 Project, a Trump administration rebuke of the Times’ work.

The district’s formal June 10 response offered Giddings access to some records, but told her the cost to compile all the information she requested would exceed $155,000.

Learning for Justice, the 1619 Project and the 1776 Project are not part of the district’s adopted curriculum, and AVID is included in voluntary elective coursework, the district said.

“Representative Giddings requested daily assignments for district K-12 teachers — a request requiring individual teacher-by-teacher searches amounting to thousands of administrative and teacher hours to perform,” the news release said. “Per Idaho … Public Records Law, Representative Giddings was informed that such a request would be billed in advance for such a costly and time-consuming undertaking.”

Giddings did not respond to EdNews’ followup questions about the request, but in an email Tuesday, she did say she considers the request “closed.”

Part of the task force’s strategy

The scope of the task force’s search for alleged indoctrination remains unclear, but Giddings’ method should come as no surprise. At the task force’s first meeting last month, she encouraged fellow members to make public records requests in a discussion about school curricula.

“If you are having a problem getting the information, then please let me know and let (McGeachin) know, so we can maybe try to come in from the other side, top-down … to (apply) pressure,” Giddings said.

Task force member Issac Moffett, a former charter school leader who pushed to use the Bible in his school, made the same recommendation, telling his colleagues to request lesson plans, as Giddings later did.

Giddings’ request could hint at what’s to come in the task force’s next meeting, the second of four McGeachin has scheduled.

“Next meeting,” Giddings said at the task force’s inaugural meeting, “We’re going to focus on K-12. And we’re going to have examples, local examples, Idaho examples. If you have anyone in your area who has examples, please be ready with that information.”

Blake Jones

Blake Jones

Reporter Blake Jones covers the politics and policy of Idaho's K-12 public school system. He's a lifelong Idahoan, and holds degrees in Creative Writing and Political Economy from the College of Idaho. Follow Blake on Twitter @jonesblakej. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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