North Gem’s next superintendent lacks some required qualifications

Updated on April 11 with more details from the state about various pathways to superintendency.

The North Gem School District recently hired a new superintendent who is missing required qualifications for the position. 

But the state should still be able to approve his superintendency under an alternate authorization, according to Mike Keckler, a spokesperson for the State Board of Education. 

The news comes after the State Board declined to consider Branden Durst’s application for an emergency provisional administrator’s certificate for the West Bonner School District. Durst did not have the required four years of full-time, certificated employment in a school. 

Kyler Miller, who will become North Gem’s superintendent this summer, does have those four years of certificated experience — and that is the key difference. 

The state’s alternate authorization route (which is different from the emergency authorization route that Durst pursued) allows for districts or charters to request interim certificates for teachers to become superintendents. In that case, the teacher would have three years to earn the superintendent endorsement by meeting all the qualifications.

That teacher-to-superintendent pathway happens rarely. According to state records, just one school district — Garden Valley — applied for such a certificate in the past three school years. More common is a principal-to-superintendent pathway that Miller may become eligible for this summer, pending a degree completion.

Miller is currently a teacher with the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District, and will complete a master’s degree in education with a principal’s endorsement this summer. That would become his second master’s degree, as he already has one in history. He then plans to apply for and complete a doctoral education program with a superintendent certification, according to Candie Massey, North Gem’s business manager. Miller also has seven years of teaching experience.

Currently, Miller lacks the following qualifications required for a superintendent endorsement:

  • A doctorate degree or comparable education
  • An administrative internship
  • Completion of a post-master’s, school superintendent program
Miller is listed as an applied arts teacher at Irving Middle School. Photo:

“We are in a location where superintendents don’t grow on trees and finding someone who is passionate about education and willing to either move their family to a small town or commute an hour should be revered,” Massey wrote in an email to EdNews.

North Gem is based in the small southeast Idaho town of Bancroft, which is home to about 390 residents. North Gem’s current superintendent, Todd Shumway, will step down this summer for a position at Brigham Young University — Hawaii. 

Miller said he has no comment at this time.

Before Durst’s denial, the State Board had issued emergency provisional certificates to administrators on three separate occasions since 2015. However, Durst’s hire prompted state officials to review Idaho law since he did not hold a certification as an educator, Matt Freeman, the State Board’s executive director, wrote in a September letter to West Bonner staff. 

The State Board determined that, according to Idaho law, it should only issue emergency certificates to teachers, not administrators. Idaho’s Associate Attorney General, Jeffery Ventrella, also weighed in, agreeing that the State Board should not issue emergency certificates for superintendents.

Durst stepped down as West Bonner’s leader in September. 

In February, Durst filed a notice with the state that he intends to sue the State Board and the IDE for $1.25 million. 

Durst previously ran for state superintendent, losing to current state superintendent Debbie Critchfield in the May 2022 primary. Durst is running for Ada County Commissioner in the May GOP primary. 

Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro reports from her hometown of Pocatello. Prior to joining EdNews, she taught English at Century High and was a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. She has won state and regional journalism awards, and her work has appeared in newspapers throughout the West. Flandro has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and Spanish from the University of Montana, and a master’s degree in English from Idaho State University. You can email her at [email protected] or call or text her at (208) 317-4287.

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