State Board President addresses charter school controversy

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Idaho State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield said she won't make any excuses for comments disparaging individuals, schools or communities.   

Her statement comes after tapes of a recent Idaho Public Charter School Commission meeting included comments that were demeaning to individual charter schools and the communities they serve. The session was unknowingly recorded and mistakenly released in response to a public record request. Critchfield said executive sessions are authorized to allow for non-public discussion of a limited number of subjects, like student education records and personally identifiable information. 

"Critical discussions do need to take place in executive session in order to protect student privacy as required by state and federal law," said Critchfield. "The Idaho Attorney General's Office is investigating complaints made regarding the Commission's executive session. Regardless of whether there was a violation of the open meeting law, discussions must be respectful and constructive in order for all of us to work toward our common goal of improving public education in Idaho."

Critchfield said she hopes the incident will not diminish the critical work of the Commission. She said Commission members and staff will receive training about Idaho's open meeting law and how to have appropriate discussions about school performance. She also plans conversations to help rebuild trust with the charter school community.

"The Commission does not exist to advocate for charter schools, nor to denigrate them," Critchfield continued. "I sincerely hope that this episode will not diminish that role or cause people to lose faith in public charter schools or use it as a reason to attack the whole system."

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