White Pine trustees acknowledge second open meeting violation in five months

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 4, with comments from White Pine Charter School board chair EmmaLee Robinson and principal Jeremy Clarke

IDAHO FALLS — White Pine Charter School trustees have acknowledged violating Idaho’s open meeting law, for the second time in five months.

The latest acknowledgement came during a board meeting Tuesday, when trustees admitted to violations tied to the approval of two past facilities projects. White Pine board chair EmmaLee Robinson and principal Jeremy Clark told EdNews Tuesday the violation came last year, when a now-former administrator OK’d funds for the projects, without seeking board approval.

Idaho’s open meeting law requires the formation of public policy to be conducted in open meetings. Private approval of funds for the projects left Idaho taxpayers in the dark regarding their financial obligation to the projects.

Robinson and Clarke said both projects have since been completed and paid for. The Post Register reported Friday that trustees had approved $85,000 for the projects without openly discussing the funds.

Minutes from a Jan. 22 special board meeting list the projects as action items. The minutes also reveal discussion of hiring a forensic auditor to probe past financials. Robinson told EdNews that this discussion stemmed from past administrative approval of the projects, but that trustees decided — during open session on Jan. 28 — not to approve the hire.

Prior open meeting violation

In August, White Pine trustees acknowledged that their process for launching an investigation into the fairness of a school board election may have violated Idaho’s open meeting law.

The board never publicly approved the investigation in an open meeting but still paid attorney Doug Nelson at least $10,877 to probe allegations of electioneering.

Former trustee and board chair Adam Frugoli told EdNews in August that the board  planned to undergo training on open meetings from the Idaho School Boards Association as a result of the prior violation.

Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He is a 2019 Solutions Journalism Network fellow and the Idaho Press Club's 2019 print reporter of the year. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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