Ex-boss warns trustees she would not recommend contracting with their new clerk

Former Idaho School Boards Association Executive Director Karen Echeverria, left.
Krissy LaMont, Nampa School District’s new board clerk, right.

Former Idaho School Boards Association Executive Director Karen Echeverria sent a scathing email to Nampa School District trustees Thursday, saying she would not recommend her former employee, Krissy LaMont, for Nampa’s clerk’s position.

Trustees agreed to hire LaMont as their board clerk in January and are planning to consider her $50-an-hour contract on Monday, which would pay her twice the typical rate for Idaho clerks and amount to $72,000 a year for 30-hour work weeks. Last year’s Nampa clerk made less than $9,000 a year.

Echeverria’s letter to trustees on Thursday night accuses LaMont of deception with recommendation letters.

Echeverria wrote a recommendation letter for LaMont in 2019 for a “completely different purpose” and did not get Echeverria’s permission to repurpose the letter for the clerk’s position, Echeverria’s email said. Even if LaMont had asked to use the letter, she would have received “a resounding no from me,” Echeverria wrote to trustees.

Karen Echeverria, former Idaho School Boards Association executive director

“Ms. LaMont’s poor judgement in the intervening years since I wrote that letter, and as reflected in public records, contributed to my decision. As such, I want to be clear that I cannot, and will not, recommend Ms. LaMont for this contract,” Echeverria wrote.

Echeverria, who lives in Arizona, told Idaho EdNews she saw the letter in the online packet Thursday night just before sending her email to Nampa trustees, which she forwarded to EdNews at 8:45 p.m. She also sent the email to LaMont.

The letter was not in the board packet Friday morning when EdNews first reviewed its contents. LaMont told EdNews that the recommendation letter from Echeverria was part of the board packet at some point, but she did not comment on the letter’s absence Friday morning.

As board clerk, LaMont posts meeting agendas and board packets, district spokesperson Kathleen Tuck said.

Echeverria hired LaMont as a trainer and was her immediate supervisor for all but three months of LaMont’s seven years at ISBA. Echeverria retired from ISBA last summer and LaMont left ISBA in September.

“Because Ms. LaMont took liberties in using my letter, I would respectfully suggest that you may also want to take the time to question whether she received permission from the other individuals whose letters were written for another purpose and that she included,” Echeverria said in her email to trustees.

Nine letters of recommendation for LaMont were attached to the online agenda Friday morning. Echeverria’s letter was not there. EdNews has filed a public records request for the original packet.

Two recommendation letters supported LaMont’s candidacy for an “Accomplished Under 40” award contest from 2019. Echeverria’s letter also supported LaMont’s candidacy for the 2019 award.

Five of the recommendation letters were authored last September. One dated back to March 2019. The other four letters were not dated. Five of the letters were for specific awards or certificates.

Three letters — written by Caldwell board chair Marisela Pesina, Brigham Young University-Idaho professor Bonnie Moon and former Middleton trustee Aleisha McConkie — supported LaMont’s application to be a certified board trainer.

Trustees hired LaMont on a 4-1 vote in January, just minutes after three new trustees were sworn in. The job was not posted for others to apply.

The scuffle over recommendations comes as Nampa trustees prepare to consider LaMont’s request for $6,000 monthly for a 30-hour-a-week job. The previous clerk worked 10 hours a week for $8,568 annually, in addition to receiving pay as a district employee, EdNews previously reported.

In 2021, LaMont faced charges for driving under the influence and petty theft, both misdemeanors, online court records show. LaMont pleaded guilty in October to the DUI and is scheduled for a jury trial on the petty theft charge on April 25. She also was arrested and charged Oct. 6 for misdemeanor failure to appear in connection to the petty theft charge, according to court records.

The average hourly pay for Idaho school board clerks is $25.61, and they work around 20 hours a week, according to a report by the State Department of Education. Clerks in larger districts are often paid more. In Idaho’s largest district, West Ada, the clerk makes $36.19 an hour, and in Boise, Idaho’s second largest district, the clerk makes $32.63 an hour. Nampa is Idaho’s third largest school district.

LaMont also is the interim board clerk for the North Gem School District, according to that district’s website. She is being paid $4,500 to serve in the position from January to June 30, 2022, according to minutes from a Jan. 6 meeting. North Gem, a small district in East Idaho, does not have a contract with LaMont, said district Interim Business Manager Candie Massey.

Other items on Nampa’s Monday agenda

The board will consider pay for interim superintendent Gregg Russell. Paula Kellerer abruptly resigned as superintendent earlier this month, days after board member Mike Kipp’s resigned.

The board also will review three applications to fill Kipp’s vacancy on board for Zone 2.

A previous announcement by the district said trustees will narrow the number of candidates, if needed, on Monday. Candidates selected Monday will be interviewed the week of March 7 during a special meeting that will be scheduled.

More on the three trustee applications below:

Lonnie Dawson, a bus driver and former Amazon packager and federal worker who served on a school board in Washington state.

Dawson was director of the Bremerton School District’s board, a Bremerton Parks and Recreation commissioner and sat on the Bremerton Schools Budget Committee.

Dawson is semi-retired, according to her application, and views the role of public education as “to bring community and district vision on the same path for the best education.” She did not list specific goals in her application, but said she wanted the board to “move forward together as a team with common goals.”

Marco Valle, caretaker of his disabled son and former vice president of operation at the Idaho Foodbank and former warehouse and facilities manager at the Utah Food Bank.

In his application, Valle said he believed in education governed by “local principles and values,” not by “national ideologies.”

He wrote he wants to be a voice for the 40% of Nampa students who are Hispanic.

He said his vision for public education includes partnering with companies to provide vocational training, developing relationships with charter schools to meet student needs, creating high-tech facilities, teaching personal finance, safety and gun safety while prioritizing student mental health.

If you want a pawn then I am not the person for you. If you want a follower then I am not the person for you. I look at things from a different perspective, one that takes into account all perspectives but chooses what is necessary to move forward and takes into account the will of our citizens,” he wrote. 

Aaron James Kallas, an education account manager at Bio-Rad Laboratories, who has also directed the Southern Utah Museum of Natural History and taught college courses.

Kallas wrote that all students are entitled to the same educational opportunities, and said each student can grow “when we have an educational system that works best for each student.”

Kallas said trustees also serve a vital role in communities.

“Trustees often serve in an inspirational role for others by encouraging them to maintain composure in the face of adversity or uncertainty and take seriously the expectation to model excellence in thinking and doing,” Kallas wrote. “The Board must have self-control, self-discipline, and integrity in actions that are defensible through policies, precedent, law, and due process.”

Kyle Pfannenstiel

Kyle Pfannenstiel

Reporter Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the implementation of policy in Idaho’s K-12 public school system. He’s a military brat and former health care reporter who holds degrees in Journalism and Political Science from University of Idaho. Follow Kyle on Twitter @pfannyyy. He can be reached at [email protected].

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