Idaho Gov. Little: Charter commission’s closed-door meeting was probably illegal

Idaho Governor Brad Little says the state’s Public Charter School Commission probably violated the state’s open meeting law during a controversial closed-door session earlier this year.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is investigating several complaints about an executive session at the commission’s April 11th meeting. The commission inadvertently released an audio recording of its entire meeting in June, including the two-hour executive session.

Charter school advocates have criticized the closed meeting, saying commissioners discussed issues that should only be addressed in an open session.

During the meeting, commissioners decried lax accounting and poor student performance at several charter schools. At one point, charter commission Chairman Alan Reed lamented that the state has not closed one charter under its purview, Heritage Academy in Jerome.

The charter commission has maintained that it discussed confidential student data sets in the closed meeting. But Heritage’s test scores, discussed during the meeting, are publicly available on the State Department of Education’s web site.

Little says the problem is that the commission probably went too far afield during the meeting. However, the governor added the panel does a great job performing a complex role.

The commission authorizes most of the state’s charter schools and reviews applications for new charters, while also serving an oversight role in deciding whether to renew or terminate a school’s operating charter.

State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield also rebuked the charter commission, calling the comments from the executive session demeaning.

The charter commission operates under the State Board of Education. (IdahoEdNews.org, Idaho Statesman)

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