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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Discord, open meeting law questions mark West Ada school board meeting

Last night’s West Ada school board meeting apparently was quite the barn-burner, with an upset crowd of 100 in attendance, multiple executive sessions and much discord, and a 4-1 vote to void a contract extension for Superintendent Linda Clark. Idaho Education News reporter Clark Corbin has a full report here.

Idaho EdNews contacted Clark this afternoon and she said she wasn’t able to comment about what has happened, but that moving forward, “Clearly, I have to seek legal counsel.”

New board attorney Breck Seiniger told the board he believed the its June 23 action to extend Clark’s contract for an additional year violated the Idaho Open Meeting Law because the item wasn’t listed on the agenda; the action took place after a closed-door executive session, and prior to several of the current board members taking office.

Last night, the board met for two hours in executive session, then voted to rescind the contract extension. Then, it announced it was going back into executive session, Corbin reports. That caused members of the crowd to groan and demand to speak; those requests were denied. The board then met in executive session for hour but without Trustee Mike Vuittonet, who had voted against rescinding the contract extension; he said he left the session because he believed his colleagues were off topic and violating open meeting laws.

While the board was in its closed-door session, EdNews reported, former Meridian schools superintendent Christine Donnell made an emotional plea to the nearly 100 people in the board room. “This is a travesty,” she said. “It’s not Linda’s doing. It’s not good for the district. This is my community, my home and my children. This board needs to be recalled. I need all of you to help me.” Her speech was rewarded with applause and she shouted out her contact information to begin recall efforts.

And before the second executive session of the evening, Corbin reports, State Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, called out to the board and said it made a procedural error and therefore the vote taken on Clark’s contract should be voided. The board indicated it would have Seiniger draft a response to Winder.

“What they are trying to do to Linda isn’t fair,” Winder told Idaho Education News. “And these kinds of discussions should not go on behind closed doors.”

Clark has worked in Meridian-area schools for 37 years and has served as superintendent of Idaho’s largest district for the past 11 years. On July 31, Gov. Butch Otter appointed her to the state Board of Education.

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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