IEA announces abrupt leadership shakeup

(UPDATED, 9:47 a.m. Dec. 26, with details from IEA.)

The president of the Idaho Education Association resigned this week, and a Boise teacher will assume the top post at the union.

Kari Overall has stepped down for “personal reasons,” the IEA said in a late afternoon news release issued Tuesday, Christmas Eve.

Layne McInelly

The IEA did not elaborate. Instead, the union used the balance of the news release to introduce Layne McInelly as its newest president.

A sixth-grade teacher at Boise’s Morley Nelson Elementary School, McInelly has served as the IEA’s vice president for five years. According to Tuesday’s news release, McInelly has served several roles with the IEA and its local affiliate, the Boise Education Association, including serving on the IEA’s Executive Committee, Government Relations Committee and Budget Committee.

“I look forward to continuing to help lead our collective work to ensure all students have access to great schools that give them the opportunity to reach their full potential,” McInelly said in the news release.

The president of the IEA, elected by union membership, plays a prominent role in education policy and education politics. Since her election in 2017, Overall has been a fixture at the Statehouse, testifying before legislative committees and lobbying on the IEA’s behalf. Through this summer, Overall served on Gov. Brad Little’s “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” K-12 task force; the group’s five recommendations include an extension of the state’s “career ladder” to increase salaries for veteran teachers.

But the IEA’s shakeup — announced abruptly, during the holiday season — remains largely unexplained.

Kari Overall

Overall resigned Monday, IEA Executive Director Matt Aber-Towns said in an email Thursday. He did not elaborate on the reasons behind Overall’s departure.

Overall did not immediately respond to a message Thursday morning seeking comment.

Elected as vice president by IEA membership, McInelly will serve out the remaining months of Overall’s term, Aber-Towns said. The IEA president serves a three-year term, and elections will be held in 2020.

Either way, McInelly assumes the IEA presidency just days before the Jan. 6 start of the 2020 legislative session — when lawmakers are likely to debate teacher pay, a possible rewrite of the state’s public school funding formula, and other K-12 issues.

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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