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Eye On Boise

In wake of civil rights complaint over Idaho charter schools, non-profit sponsors ‘Civil Rights Summit’

With a civil rights complaint pending against the state of Idaho over charter school enrollment practices, a non-profit education group is sponsoring a workshop in Boise Oct. 7 on access and equity in education, dubbed a “civil rights summit.” The session is free, and will include presentations by two civil rights attorneys from Washington, D.C. who represent charter schools and charter school organizations, along with Terry Ryan, CEO of Bluum, an Idaho nonprofit funded by the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation.

“Public education, and this includes public charter schools, is operating in a period of significant change,” Ryan said. “Idaho can, and should, be a leader in how it serves all of its children and families.”

In May, a nonprofit that advocates for Idaho Hispanics filed a federal civil rights complaint against the state and all of Idaho’s public charter schools, charging that the state’s charter school system has evolved into “a separate but unequal public school system that discriminates against students of color.” The Center for Community and Justice, which filed the complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education, said minority students, students with limited English skills, students with disabilities and students from low-income families all were vastly under-represented in Idaho’s publicly funded charter schools, and that the state had ignored its efforts to change that.

The complaint named the state of Idaho; the state Department of Education; the state Board of Education; the Idaho Charter School Commission; and all 48 of Idaho’s current charter schools and their boards of directors. When the complaint was filed, Idaho’s state Department of Education said it welcomed the review and wanted to ensure that all students have equal access to education.

 The upcoming workshop is aimed at policy makers, educators, charter school authorizers and boards, education stakeholders and “others concerned about Idaho’s children and their collective future.”

The Boise workshop, on Oct. 7, will run from noon to 5 p.m. at the Springhill Suites and will include lunch. There’s more information and registration online here.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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