Public Charter School Commission director announces resignation

(Updated Dec. 6, 12:45 p.m., with comments from the Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families.)

BOISE — Idaho Public Charter School Commission Director Tamara Baysinger will resign at the end of the month.

Tamara Baysinger

“It has been an honor to serve alongside so many fine people over many years,” Baysinger wrote in an email to charter school leaders across the state Monday. “I will always be proud of the quality opportunities you have created for Idaho students.”

Since 2006, Baysinger has worked as the top staffer for the seven-member commission, which serves under the State Board of Education and oversees nearly three-fourths of Idaho’s 56 public charter schools.

During nearly 14 years with the commission, Baysinger assisted in the approval and oversight of charters across the state. Yet her announcement comes amid tension between the commission and several of its charters.

In June, leaked audio from a closed-door commission meeting revealed frustration among commissioners and staff over continued low performance of some schools, financial “malpractice” and the prospect of closing schools that continue to struggle.

Administrators at some of the schools later accused the commission and Baysinger of “outright lies and blatant hypocrisy.” One advocacy group called for the immediate disbandment of the entire commission.

Since its inception in 2005, the commission has closed just one Idaho charter school.

Baysinger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Friday, the Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families released a statement demanding clarification about Baysinger’s resignation. The group’s president, Tom LeClaire, also wrote a letter to commission chair Alan Reed.

“The (commission) appears to be in a dire crisis,” LeClaire wrote, before outlining a range of questions related to the resignation, including a timeline and process for replacing Baysinger.

The State Board has not had time to discuss replacing Baysinger, State Board spokesman Mike Keckler told EdNews. However, both members of the commission and the State Board will evaluate future applicants, Keckler added. State Board Executive Director Matt Freeman will use their input to make a hiring decision.

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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