Ybarra’s accountability committee meets in secret

A committee reviewing Idaho education laws and rules as they relate to accountability is doing its work behind closed doors.

State superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s Red Tape Committee, a group of 17 influential educators, is scheduled to meet Wednesday, but the public and the news media are not allowed to attend.

“We checked with our attorney, and the committee’s work does not constitute a public meeting,” State Department of Education communications director Allison Westfall said.

The committee will be asked to identify areas of improvement in several key areas:

  • Accountability reporting.
  • Teacher evaluations.
  • Literacy plans.
  • Charter school performance reports.
  • School continuous improvement plans.
  • Career and college advising plans.

Idaho Education News’ request to attend was denied.

Westfall said the SDE asked committee members if they wanted to allow the media to attend their meetings. Westfall said 13 members responded, and nine said they wanted the meetings closed.

“Their desire is to meet without media present,” Westfall said.

Taxpayers, students, parents and other educators also are not allowed to attend.

The committee includes superintendents from around the state, including Idaho’s two largest school districts: Don Coberly of the Boise School District and Mary Ann Ranells of the West Ada School District.

Key staff members from the SDE, State Board of Education and the state Charter School Commission are also attending.

“I’m happy to update you on the progress of the committee,” Westfall told Idaho Education News in an email.

Committee members met earlier this year and discussed audits, the career ladder, reporting evaluation information and local evaluation policies, Westfall said.

The group discussed various accountability reports and recommended a review of administrative rules and laws for improvement, which may occur Wednesday.

“The committee will focus on the two recommendation areas of evaluations and accountability,” Westfall said. “They are looking at the concerns from the field about reporting, duplication, streamlining and they are helping identify solutions.”

The Red Tape Committee takes votes as a group and makes recommendations to the SDE, Westfall said.

Here is a list of the committee’s 17 members, according to the SDE:

  • Cindy Johnstone, Vallivue School District.
  • Craig Woods, Notus School District.
  • Don Coberly, Boise School District.
  • Bob Ranells, Wallace School District.
  • Jodie Mills, Caldwell School District.
  • Karen Glassman, Inspire Connections Academy.
  • Katharine McPherson, Lewiston School District.
  • Laura Sandidge, Another Choice Charter School.
  • Lisa Sherick, Jefferson County School District.
  • Michael Jacobson, Swan Valley School District.
  • Molly Stein, Soda Springs School District.
  • Robin Gilbert, Payette School District.
  • Ron Anthony, Buhl School District.
  • Sandra Miller, Cassia County School District.
  • Shane Pratt, Rolling Hills Public Charter School.
  • Wendy Moore, Genesee School District.
  • Mary Ann Ranells, West Ada School District.

Here is a list of staff members who will attend the meeting, according to the SDE:

  • Pete Koehler, State Department of Education.
  • Tim McMurtrey, State Department of Education.
  • Tamara Baysinger, Charter School Commission.
  • Tracie Bent, Office of the State Board of Education.
  • Christina Linder, Office of the State Board of Education.
  • Heather Luchte, Career-Technical Education.
  • Allison Westfall, State Department of Education.
  • Helen Price, State Department of Education.
Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over one million pageviews in 2019. Jennifer has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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