Former charter commission director lands new role

Former charter commission director Jenn Thompson is taking over as Chief Planning and Policy Officer for the Office of the State Board of Education, filling an opening left by longtime State Board employee Tracie Bent.

The move comes after Thompson’s abrupt resignation from charter school leadership. 

Thompson, alongside former commissioner Brian Scigliano, announced her resignation on March 8. According to a March 9 report from Idaho EdNews, the two education leaders claimed the commission is not “acting responsibly to taxpayers or state lawmakers.”

Jenn Thompson, 2020

The crux of the controversy came Feb. 24, when the commission voted to continue exempting Idaho Virtual Academy from using the commission’s financial metrics. The school successfully argued in a hearing that the commission’s format for measuring a school’s financial health does not fit IDVA’s accounting methods.

Idaho charters are subject to financial evaluation using seven different measures, and risk losing authorization if their financial reports miss the mark.

The public charter commission sided with IDVA and it was granted another five-year contract without any conditions. The school fully reports its finances and audits as required by state law.

Thompson has found a new role in education leadership — one within the state’s foremost education policymaking body, the State Board.

As Chief Planning and Policy Officer, Thompson is responsible for overseeing OSBE policy, state education laws, administrative rules, strategic planning and board meeting information, among other responsibilities, according to the State Board’s website. Thompson will likely be charged with presenting to the Legislature, and working with lawmakers to implement changes to Idaho code.

Bent recently accepted a new position as Chief Administrative Officer for the Division of Career Technical Education.

The State Board works in conjunction with the charter commission to oversee Idaho’s 71 charter schools and 29,000 charter students.

Sadie Dittenber

Sadie Dittenber

Reporter Sadie Dittenber focuses on K-12 policy and politics. She is a College of Idaho graduate, born and raised in the Treasure Valley. You can follow Sadie on Twitter @sadiedittenber and send her news tips at [email protected].

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