Eye On Boise

Eastern Idaho school district refusing to release info on $105K payout to ex-superintendent

Here's a news item from the AP and the Post Register: BLACKFOOT, Idaho (AP) ― An eastern Idaho school district has rejected a request by a former teacher and newspaper to turn over a contract payout agreement signed earlier this year with the former superintendent. The Post-Register and former teacher Joyce Bingham asked Blackfoot School District 55 to release the agreement and documents related to a $105,000 payout made the day after Scott Crane retired. School officials have refused to release the documents, citing personnel protection laws. On Tuesday, the Post Register reported (http://bit.ly/Uc3HOt ) the district once again refused to produce the documents at Crane's request. The newspaper and Bingham are also suing the district in state court to get access to the documents. The lawsuit also claims the district violated open meetings laws in reaching agreement with Crane during a closed-door session. Click below for a full report.

Blackfoot school denies request to share documents

BLACKFOOT, Idaho (AP) — An eastern Idaho school district has turned down a request by a former teacher and Idaho Falls newspaper to make public an employment agreement and details of a contract payout worth more than $105,000 earlier this year to the district's former superintendent.

The Post Register and former teacher Joyce Bingham asked Blackfoot School District 55 to release the agreement and documents related to the payout the district made to an unnamed source the day after Scott Crane's June 30 retirement.

The payment and the district's handling of Crane's exit have raised questions about who received the $105,428 check and generated a lawsuit in state court alleging violations of state open meetings law.

School district officials have declined to release the documents, citing protections in state law for personnel matters. On Tuesday, the interim superintendent rejected another request through an affidavit filed in the lawsuit brought by Bingham.

In the affidavit, Chad Struhs wrote: "I contacted Dr. Crane and urged him to allow the District to release the requested agreement (but) Dr. Crane declined to do so," the Post Register reported (http://bit.ly/Uc3HOt).

On Friday, a judge is scheduled to hear oral arguments on whether the documents should be made public.

The newspaper reports there is no immediate evidence linking the employment agreement and the contract payout. But Bingham's attorney, Jared Harris, and the newspaper are acting on the assumption the two items are related.

The Post Register also is seeking public response for an alleged breach of Idaho's open meeting laws. The newspaper claims the school board violated state law by making an agreement with Crane during a closed-door, executive session in April. That eight-minute meeting was called ostensibly to consider the hiring of a new employee. But during that session, the board executed an agreement with Crane, according to minutes from the meeting.

Crane is now working as an administrator for the school district in Moab, Utah.

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Information from: Post Register, http://www.postregister.com


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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