Idaho’s top school official sues lawmakers, education board

Idaho’s top school official has filed a lawsuit against lawmakers for allegedly violating the state constitution by approving two laws that are an attack on her office by reducing her ability to direct critical public school operations.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra filed the lawsuit with the Idaho Supreme Court on Friday against the Legislature and the State Board of Education.

Ybarra is a statewide-elected official whose authority comes from the state’s constitution. She says lawmakers don’t have the authority to trim her office’s responsibilities and give them to the State Board of Education.

The lawsuit says the Legislature is trying to weaken Ybarra’s office by passing appropriations bills taking away money and employees without having to ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment required for such a change.

At issue are two laws that removed 18 employees and $2.7 million from her direct control and placed them under the State Board of Education. The appropriations bills were approved earlier this year by the House of Representative and Senate. Both Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke and Republican Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill are named in the lawsuit.

Debbie Critchfield, president of the State Board of Education, is also named in the lawsuit because the board declined a deal that would have allowed Ybarra to retain authority over the employees and the $2.7 million.

Republican Gov. Brad Little signed both bills into law in late March.

Ybarra, also a Republican, is asking for an expedited court procedure before the laws take effect on July 1. (AP)

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