Illegal Executive Session Unveils Extreme Anti-Charter School Bias, Disparaging Remarks of Students and Communities, Misleading Claims, Plans to Skirt the Law to Close Schools and Manipulation of Student Data for Legislators and the State Board of Education
Boise, ID. A recently released audio recording of an illegal executive session held on April 11, 2019, by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, unveils a troubling track record of deception, manipulation, philosophical bias, and vindictive attitudes toward schools, students, parents, and entire communities.
The legally obtained audio file recently reported in the Idaho news clearly recorded commissioners and staff misusing student data to enact an Executive Session in violation of Idaho law. What can be heard on the file is egregious evidence that the Idaho Charter School Commission has strayed from its original mission of helping struggling schools. The very entity created to support school choice and alternative educational models has instead set measures of success by how many charter schools it can shut down, with staff coaching commissioners about how to lobby legislators, the governor, and the State Board of Education.
Commission Executive Director, Tamara Baysinger admitted in the recording that only two of the schools discussed are allowed to be discussed in executive session. Nevertheless, she led the commissioners in a 2-hour discussion about how to skirt the law to close multiple charter schools, then proceeded to make disparaging remarks about more than a dozen charter schools and their volunteer boards of directors.
Furthermore, staff and commissioners are heard clearly speaking disparagingly of schools, school leaders, school boards, the Idaho School Board Association, legislators, and members of the administration.
After listening to the entire two-hour recording, Tom Leclaire, President of the Idaho Coalition of Charter School Families, released the following statement:
“It’s disgusting. Most troubling to me, the Commission staff has shown a widespread pattern of behavior which mirrors the training they’ve received from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. They favor some schools and attempt to destroy others based solely on their personal views. Unfortunately, this has all happened behind closed doors, based on false information, and without giving the schools the opportunity to even know of the charges, let alone defend themselves.
They have created a tangled web of academic standards that few charter schools can survive, coupled with a constant barrage of audits and charter reauthorization requirements designed to set charter schools up for failure. They have created a toxic atmosphere for charter schools in Idaho, all while our school system faces overcrowding challenges, and the wait lists for charter schools continues to grow. The Commission staff are incompetent at the one thing they are charged to do -- approving new charter schools. An approval process that should take no more than 90 days instead take many years.
Commission staff has shown a clear pattern of misusing data and misrepresenting the actions of the schools they purport to regulate, all without giving the schools an opportunity to defend themselves. They have done a terrible job and are dragging their commissioners down the drain.
This is not how Idaho works. We do not believe any school authorized by this commission will ever be treated with unbiased due process in the days, months, and years ahead.”
The Idaho Coalition of Charter School Families is an Idaho-based non-profit that works to encourage parental involvement in public policy that impacts the expansion of school choice and all public school options.