The facts: The IPCSC meeting minutes state that on April 11th, 2019 the Idaho Public Charter School Commission exited the public portion of their meeting and entered into an executive session “To go into executive session pursuant to Idaho Code Section 74-206(1) (d), to consider records that are exempt from disclosure…provided in chapter 1, title 74, Idaho Code.”
An audio recording of this executive session was accidentally released to the press. The audio along with a full transcript can be found at the Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families website. It really is worth a listen.
The problem: The nearly two hour executive session included very little content that would be privileged in the Idaho code cited in the IPCSC meeting minutes. Regardless of the blatant Idaho Public Meeting Code violations, the recording also reveals a culture of unprofessionalism.
Some examples: One member in the meeting literally says out loud the data they are discussing is not confidential — which means it should be discussed in open meeting — before proceeding to talk about it anyway. (Time stamp: 23:20).
Demeaning comments not only about the school being discussed, but the entire community along with a suggestion that, somehow, building an ice cream shop for the school will solve these problems (time stamp 45:18). Keep in mind, the data being discussed here is public record–there is no reason do discuss this in Executive Session.
Belly-aching laughter among the group over a student not graduating while discussing growth goals (Timestamp 1:21:10).
Mockery of a school bringing in the Idaho School Boards Association to help address an issue pinpointed by the ICPCA (Timestamp 1:09.00). This is face-palming irony considering a major component of ISBA training for board members is — wait for it — public meeting law training!
A conversation of hysterical irony when IPCSC Director Baysinger is asked if she could go into executive session with the State Board of Education to discuss data with a reply of, “yeah technically they have a right to see it, but I’m not sure it would be a good idea” (Timestamp 1:35:05). So the data that actually should be discussed in executive session is the data they are not willing to discuss!
Here is the bottom line: The bulk of the executive session dealt with materials that were not confidential or privileged, but the IPCSC chooses to discuss these topics in executive session anyways. It makes Joe Public wonder what other topics have been discussed behind doors instead of in the public as the law mandates.
One wonders what the intentions of the IPCSC are in discussing so much of the publicly available material behind closed doors. The bulk of the meeting was spent discussing charter schools not achieving the results the IPCSC has set for them.
But that is precisely the type of conversation that should be made available to the public by the board governing Idaho’s charter schools. Is the intention to not talk about these issues publicly in order to lead the public into believing that there aren’t any issues?
Instead of generating new goals for Idaho’s charter schools in their next meeting, the IPCSC should make a goal for itself. Namely, receiving some training on Idaho’s Open Meeting laws. I hear the Idaho School Boards Association offers a wonderful tutorial.
Written by Levi B Cavener, a social studies teacher living in Caldwell. He blogs at IdahosPromise.Org