Jerome ‘unlikely’ to oversee Heritage Academy

BOISE — Jerome School District Superintendent Dale Layne “would be surprised” if trustees in his district agreed to take over Heritage Academy’s operating charter.

“It’s unlikely,” Layne told Idaho Education News during the Idaho Association of School Administrators’ annual leadership conference at the Boise Centre on Wednesday.

Jerome Superintendent Dale Layne

The charter school asked the district to consider being its authorizing body amid fallout from a leaked recording of a closed-door Idaho Public School Charter Commission meeting. The commission, which authorizes Heritage, sharply criticized the Jerome-based charter — and several other schools it oversees — during the April 11 meeting. Commission chair Alan Reed at one point expressed regret that Heritage remained open. Someone later suggested Heritage administrator Christine Ivie extolled low student test scores because they allowed for increased funding.

Reed later apologized, but the audio sparked blowback from charter supporters across the state. One lobbying group called on state leaders to disband the charter commission and replace it with a new third-party group.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office augmented the controversy by finding the commission “appeared” to violate Idaho’s open meetings law. The commission will meet Thursday to discuss next steps, in the wake of a likely open meeting violation.

Layne said Ivy texted him with the request for a change in oversight following the commission’s inadvertent release of the audio. Layne placed the request on his school board’s most recent agenda, but said trustees’ reluctance to pursue the possibility stemmed from uncertainty over how the school’s board would operate in relation to the district’s board.

“We might have a disagreement and then what?” Layne said.

The Public Charter School Commission authorizes nearly three-fourths of Idaho’s 56 charter schools. Appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, the seven-member commission has the authority approve or reject new schools and decide whether to renew an existing school’s charter. Idaho school districts can also authorize charters.

School administrators get some work done during a lunch at the IASA conference in Boise, July 31. Photo by Sami Edge/Idaho Education News

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