Special Meeting! Commissioners will discuss reauthorization process changes & statutory role

They will take comments from individuals for up to 3 minutes each BEFORE their discussion.

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RSVP for the special meeting on Facebook Here or via email to IdahoPSO@gmail.com. See another letter below that was sent to schools this week. Waiving their authorizer fee in 2020. It’s a nice olive branch offering, but how does it contrast with what they were caught on audio saying about closing Heritage Academy in Jerome? In their illegal closed-door meeting they said they will close Heritage Academy if they don’t jump through the extra hoops traditional public schools don’t have to jump through. Here’s a great article about the data manipulation the staff of the commission had to do to paint this school as a failure. Great journalistic investigation into academic growth at Heritage Academy!


But, in the letter below they state “no schools are near the ends of their performance certificate terms, so no renewal process will take place.” Doesn’t the quote from the transcript above look like a process is underway? Why don’t they want due process for the schools?

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Idaho Ed News: Charter Commission Seeks to Weather Storm after Summer of Controversy

Originally posted on Idaho Education News. Read the full article on their page here.

Kevin Richert 08/29/2019

By day, Alan Reed owns a family dairy — well-known around Idaho Falls for its ice cream products.

Idaho Public Charter School Commission Chairman Alan Reed addresses the audience at an Aug. 1 meeting. (Sami Edge, Idaho Education News.)


But Reed has spent the summer mired in political controversy, even though he says he wants what his critics want. “Choice is important, alternatives are important, when it comes to education.”

Reed chairs the Idaho Public Charter School Commission. Critics say commissioners are beholden to an unprofessional, biased staff. They say the commission’s rhetoric and Reed’s recent apologies to charter leaders belie a desire to shutter schools.

As Idaho’s charter school sector grows, reaching an enrollment of 25,000 students, the commission has become a polarizing force. Some charter leaders still defend the commission, despite recent missteps. Reed has been trying to mend fences with political leaders, and it appears the commission still has powerful Statehouse allies.


The controversy dates back to April 11, when commissioners and staff met for nearly two hours behind closed doors.

The stated reason for the executive session was legal; commissioners wanted to review confidential student data. The discussion drifted. Commissioners talked about the politics of closing charter schools — and what it would take to bring legislators around to the idea. They made disparaging remarks about Heritage Academy, its administrator and the community it serves. At one point, Reed expressed regret that the Jerome school remains open. (Reed later apologized, and tried to meet with Heritage officials, who rebuffed the invite.)

Responding to a series of complaints, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office launched an investigation, and concluded that the commission probably violated Idaho’s open meeting law. The commission met one week later, admitted to breaking the law and received training from a Wasden deputy.

“There is an issue, and rightly so, of trust,” Reed said in a recent interview. “(You have to) behave yourself out of it.”

For critics, the problem transcends one illegal meeting. The commission has shown clear animosity towards some charter schools, and those schools’ leaders don’t want to respond to an adversarial agency, said Tom LeClaire, president of the Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families.

“It’s become a dead relationship, and that’s not what we want,” he said.

The contentious relationship has a lot to do with the commission’s role.


Supported by four staffers, the commission’s seven volunteer members wield considerable power over charter schools.

The commission serves as authorizer for three-fourths of Idaho’s charter schools. Last year, more than 16,000 students attended charter schools under the commission’s bailiwick. That number will grow this fall, as four new commission-approved schools open their doors.

The 46-school portfolio includes large Treasure Valley charters, such as Sage International School in Boise and North Star Charter in Eagle, and smaller schools serving McCall, Gooding and the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The commission oversees schools that post some of the state’s top test scores, and virtual schools serving a high proportion of at-risk students.

The Legislature created the commission in 2004, in order to give charter advocates another way to open a school. Colleges and universities can authorize a charter, but none ever has, and some school districts are uninterested in authorizing charters.

Reed is glad the commission provides a path to opening a new school. But at the same time, the commission faces a constant balancing act — between approving schools and providing oversight, and fostering innovation and protecting public money.

“We do not want the taxpayer throwing money at an idea that we’re pretty confident is going to fail,” he said.

But LeClaire says the commission has done a “terrible” job as an authorizer, forcing applicants to navigate a time-consuming paperwork process. He concedes that the commission has an oversight role, but says the group has abandoned its support role and talks, at least privately, about closing schools.

“This isn’t a regulatory agency,” he said.

……. continued on Idaho EdNews website.

In Case You Missed It: Latest News Related to Charter Schools

Here's the latest news related to Idaho Charter Schools and the Embattled Public Charter School Commission

Twin Falls Times-News

Charter school shows academic improvement as advocates point to bias

The newest test results confirm that commission staff misrepresent data of schools they don't like, Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families ...


Our Press Release: Recent Data from SDE/SBOE Proves Petty Bias of Charter Commission Staff

Data recently released by the State Department of Education, paints a much different picture than the embattled Public Charter Commission staff claims. It is in the data where the real story is told, as SBOE combines multiple measures, like test scores, challenging demographics, and growth, to show academic progress. 

Petition by Charter School Families:The path to regain trust in the Idaho Public Charter School Commission begins with an independent investigation into possible malpractice.

Concerns long held within the Charter and Virtual School Community were recently confirmed in an illegal executive session. Join us in asking our leaders for an independent investigation of possible misconduct, so our schools can regain trust in the Idaho Public Charter School Commission. 

Sign your name here: http://www.idchartercoalition.org/petition

Post Register

Charter schools | News

Also, a couple of weeks ago the Idaho State Department of Education ... and Schools Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.


Ontario Argus Observer

New charter school opens doors boasting a classical education for K-6

The charter school will emphasize a “classical education” model, ... The allotment was set by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission.

Teresa- Charter School Board Member Testimony "The recording I heard really wasn’t that surprising. I have heard the same disdain and condescension from you and your staff for many years."

Watch on Youtube here: https://youtu.be/h4bnyhidNlk

Or read transcript on our website.

Upcoming Opportunities to meet lawmakers!

August 20, 2019

Check out our latest update to see opportunities to get involved! Click Here

Post Register

Commission faces need to regain trust

BOISE – The net result of a special meeting held Thursday by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission seemed to be based upon the need ...


Idaho EdNews

Jerome 'unlikely' to oversee Heritage Academy

The Public Charter School Commission authorizes nearly three-fourths of Idaho's 56 charter schools. Appointed by the governor and legislative ...

Idaho EdNews

'You're part of my team:' Little addresses school administrators

Doubling Idaho's literacy line item doesn't fully reflect what schools spend ... Meanwhile, Little has defended the embattled charter commission, ...

Idaho State Journal

Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center and Bingham Academy ...

A recent accomplishment of Bingham Academy which will be celebrated is its designation as Idaho's first high school, public or private, to be ...


Idaho Public Charter School Commission takes responsibility for ...

BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — The Idaho Public Charter School commission has taken responsibility for violating Idaho's Open Meeting Law ...

Idaho Statesman

Public Charter School Commission admits to breaking law

Thursday's formal vote was quick and unanimous: The state Public Charter School Commission admitted it violated Idaho's open meeting law ...


Charter School Commission accepts Attorney General's report

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Update: 8-1 Idaho's Public Charter School Commission has unanimously voted to accept the recommendations of ...

Magic Valley Times: Charter School Progresses, Advocates Point Out Bias

JEROME — The embattled charter school that was criticized by state leaders for poor academic performance saw significant growth this year on its standardized test scores.

Heritage Academy doubled the number of its students proficient in reading during the 2019 school year, according to results released last week by the State Department of Education.

Only 28.4% of the school’s K-3 students were reading proficient in the fall, but 59.7% scored at grade level or better in the spring on the Idaho Reading Indicator, a biannual state test measuring early literacy.

Heritage saw 77% growth in English language arts from 2018 to 2019 and 22% growth in math on the Idaho Standards Achievement Test, taken annually in three key subjects.

The results still lag behind the rest of the state, but Heritage serves large populations of students facing barriers to academic achievement. Of its 166 students in K-8 last year, about 96% were low income, 24% were with disabilities and 19% were learning English.

Local test results (% proficiency)


Fall IRI: 52.5

Spring IRI: 69.7


ISAT Math: 44.4

ISAT Science: 58.9

Heritage Academy

Fall IRI: 28.4

Spring IRI: 59.7


ISAT Math: 19

ISAT Science: 44

Twin Falls

Fall IRI: 51.4

Spring IRI: 64.9

ISAT ELA: 50.9

ISAT Math: 42.1

ISAT Science: 56


Fall IRI: 41.9

Spring IRI: 53.5

ISAT ELA: 37.9

ISAT Math: 25

ISAT Science: 47.4


Fall IRI: 51.2

Spring IRI: 68.3

ISAT ELA: 51.7

ISAT Math: 39.1

ISAT Science: 60.4


Fall IRI: 41.4

Spring IRI: 56.9

ISAT ELA: 43.5

ISAT Math: 32.1

ISAT Science: 41.6


Fall IRI: 43.6

Spring IRI: 55.9

ISAT ELA: 42.9

ISAT Math: 37.3

ISAT Science: 48.8

The real story is growth, Superintendent Christine Ivie wrote this week in a letter to parents and staff.

“We are proud of the hard work our students have done over the past few years,” Ivie wrote. “These results show that our students have the mindsets, perseverance and ability to achieve great things!”

In April, members of the Public Charter School Commission derided Heritage over its poor academic performance during a controversial executive session that the Idaho Attorney general later deemed in violation of open meeting law. Members accused Ivie of “malpractice” and discussed strategies to convince legislators to shut down the school.

The commission has since acknowledged its violation, and the commission’s chair visited Jerome to apologize to local leaders, but Heritage declined to show up.

The newest test results confirm that commission staff misrepresent data of schools they don’t like, Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families President Tom LeClaire wrote Thursday in a statement.

“This is more evidence that the commission staff decides to harass a charter school and then selects the set of data that makes the school look bad,” LeClaire wrote. “The commission staff is the most unprofessional and biased group of employees in our state government.”

LeClaire called on commissioners and staff to resign in July and wants schools to move oversight of their authorization to districts and colleges. Jerome School District trustees previously expressed hesitance at the prospect of overseeing Heritage.


Recent Data from SDE/SBOE Proves Petty Bias of Charter Commission Staff

Embattled Charter Commission Staff Uses Incomplete Data to Irrationally Target Schools 

Data recently released by the State Department of Education, paints a much different picture than the embattled Public Charter Commission staff claims. It is in the data where the real story is told, as SBOE combines multiple measures, like test scores, challenging demographics, and growth, to show academic progress. 

The Idaho Department of Education released the 2018-19 state reading, math, language arts and science results on Friday, August 16. The results confirm that during the illegal Charter Commission executive session in April, Commission staff members and Commissioners used inaccurate data to evaluate charter schools targeted for closure. 

During the April executive session, which violated the state’s Open Meeting Law, the commissioners and staff can be heard gossiping and criticizing schools they consider low-performing. At one point, commission staff members Tamara Baysinger and Kirsten Pochop accused Jerome’s Heritage Academy Charter School of “malpractice,” claiming it should be shut down as soon as possible.

However, state assessment data for Heritage Academy shows otherwise.  When examining factual information [available on the Idaho Report Card website https://idahoschools.org/] the story is very different.  Heritage Academy actually made more growth -- with more challenging demographic characteristics --  than any other school in surrounding communities.

“This is more evidence that the commission staff decides to harass a charter school and then selects the set of data that makes the school look bad,” said Tom LeClaire. “The commission staff is the most unprofessional and biased group of employees in our state government” he added.

“The commission’s staff has a pattern of selectively choosing data to manipulate commissioners into believing a school they personally dislike is failing when it is not. These schools have difficult demographics and the efforts of the teachers, administrators, board members and parents should be supported, not attacked and harassed. The SBOE understands this, why does the charter school commission staff refuse to look at the whole picture?” 

“Governor Brad Little needs to step in and reestablish the codified original mission, not allow this commission to be a rubber stamp for the staff’s petty personal biases.”

Commission staff members and Commissioners spent a great deal of the recording slamming Heritage Academy and its administrator, Dr. Christine Ivie.  Commissioners said that Heritage students, along with Jerome School District students, would be better off if they were bused to one of the Commission’s favorite schools, North Valley Academy in Gooding.

However, the data released by the body that oversees the charter commission, the State Board of Education, paints a much different picture. It is in their data where the real story is told, as State Board of Education and the State Department of Education combine multiple measures, like test scores, challenging demographics, and growth, to show academic progress. 

Here are the numbers: 

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At Heritage Academy, 96% of students qualify for free or reduced priced meals.  The average for the state of Idaho: 45%. The average for schools the Commission labels “high performing”: 24%.

At Heritage, one out of every four (25%) of our students have disabilities. The average for the state of Idaho: 11%.  The average for schools the Commission labels “high performing”: less than 3%

At Heritage, one out of every four (23%) of students is learning English as a new language. Compare this with 7% for the rest of the state, and 0% for the Commission’s “top performers”.

Many schools considered “low-performing” and targeted for closure by the Commission are similar to Heritage Academy: they serve students who have barriers to success or who are significantly behind when they start school in the fall.

Based on the illegal meeting and what it revealed about the Commission’s desire to close schools that serve diverse student populations, legislators and charter school advocates will be considering legislation that will significantly change the way charter schools are authorized and evaluated.