West Ada’s former board chair resigns

Former West Ada School District board chair Amy Johnson resigned Monday night, citing harassment and threats in a resignation letter, which she shared with Idaho Education News.

Johnson’s resignation from the board that oversees Idaho’s largest school district came weeks after Nampa trustee Mike Kipp resigned, citing the toll of pandemic talks and service that left him “weary” and “tired.” Johnson indirectly referred to Kipp in the opening lines of her letter.

Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson

“Much like our colleague in Nampa, I am stepping down because I am exhausted and candidly want to protect my family and my employer from further harassment,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson was elected in November 2019, joining the board in January 2020 — two months before the pandemic started. She said “a minority of individuals in our West Ada Community in the last 6 months” have exhibited “shocking and appalling” behavior, lobbing threats against her, her children and issuing “slanderous and false allegations that were baseless.”

At one point, the head of an anti-mask parent group, David Binnetti, filed a complaint with the school board alleging Johnson had a conflict of interest voting on pandemic protocols because she worked for the insurer Blue Cross. The board dismissed Binnetti’s complaint in a formal response, writing “In the broad manner in which you are interpreting a subjective ‘perceived’ conflict, would present every board member with any level of knowledge or expertise on any issue from voting on a matter for which they have knowledge or expertise.”

Similar to Nampa, West Ada’s board has undergone a drastic makeover. Two newly elected trustees who won in races with partisan undertones assumed office in January. The two banded together with another relatively new trustee to install fresh faces in leadership positions.

Johnson said she hopes the new board honors its responsibility to serve everyone in the district.

“My hope for this (mostly) new board as you guide the future of Idaho’s largest school district, is that you are intentionally open to different perspectives, that you take the time to really understand the facts, the data and hear from the experts before making decisions, that integrity be your guide, and that you will protect with your entire being the non-partisan nature of the trustee role and the school board,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson said those around her felt the backlash that accompanied her service. She said she can handle “the deplorable nature of a small few” and her family knew her trustee role would mean missing dinner or bedtimes occasionally.

“When attacks and threats are made regarding my children or my employer — neither of whom chose to run for public office — it is my responsibility to stop them from facing further despicable behaviors.”

Idaho law says school boards are responsible for appointing new trustees to fill vacancies. Appointments should be made in the first 90 days after the vacancy is declared at a board meeting, but the deadline may be extended. Appointed trustees will serve until the end of the seat’s term. Johnson’s term was set to end Dec. 2023.

Johnson announced her resignation at Monday night’s board meeting. The board has not yet accepted her resignation, which it must do in a public meeting.

Kyle Pfannenstiel

Kyle Pfannenstiel

Reporter Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the implementation of policy in Idaho’s K-12 public school system. He’s a military brat and former health care reporter who holds degrees in Journalism and Political Science from University of Idaho. Follow Kyle on Twitter @pfannyyy. He can be reached at [email protected].

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