As former school district superintendents with many years of experience, we understand the expectations of the role, which include serving as a leader and model for our youth.
Recently, Mr. Branden Durst initiated an angry, profanity-laced confrontation with a State Senator when a bill Mr. Durst introduced in a Senate committee was not printed. His behavior was aggressive and threatening, according to onlookers who witnessed the incident.
Soon after, Idaho Senate Majority Leadership issued a statement condemning his actions, stating: “…Mr. Durst’s aggressive actions … demonstrate egregious conduct unbecoming of anyone, especially a former legislator and current statewide political candidate.”
The Code of Ethics for Idaho Professional Educators is replete with directives regarding proper educator conduct. Mr. Durst’s recent display of boorish behavior appeared to violate at least two Code of Ethics provisions:
- “He or she strives, therefore, to establish and maintain the highest set of professional principles of behavior…” (Code of Ethics, Aspirations and Commitments) and
- “Committing any act of harassment toward a colleague” (Code of Ethics, Principle X B, Professionalism)
As an educator, particularly as the Superintendent of Public Instruction, you can never take a day off from being an example, because someone, often a child, is always watching.
In our opinion, Mr. Branden Durst is a poor fit for the office of Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction. He appears not to be in control of himself, and apparently does not understand that all educators must always strive to be models of self-control and examples for young people.
What would happen if Durst was elected as the next Idaho superintendent? Would he exhibit the same aggressive behavior with State Department of Education employees and legislators? Would anyone want to work for Mr. Durst or subject him/herself to one his juvenile tirades? Your guess is as good as ours.
Just as all other state constitutional officers are expected to exhibit high moral and ethical standards and behavior, the Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction MUST be a model for ALL of Idaho’s children. He or she represents education statewide.
We should expect no less moving forward.
Written by retired Idaho superintendents Dr. Don Coberly, Dr. Geoffrey Thomas and Wil Overgaard.