REXBURG, Idaho – Parents who want to start a controversial new charter school in the Bonneville Joint School District are taking their case to the state after accusing trustees in the district of stalling.
The parents withdrew a petition with the Rexburg district on Dec. 30. They said Bonneville school board members showed “negativity” toward the plan and now want the Idaho Charter School Commission to decide on the fate of the school.
The group wants to found a school that’s run according to the so-called “Harbor Method,” a school system that tolerates no teasing or misbehavior to promote learning.
But the method’s founders also are the target of a state investigation over whether public funds have being used to pay expenses of the nonprofit organization that promotes its teaching methods.
State officials said they would have preferred if the parents had resolved their petition at the district level, but are slated to review the proposal at the February commission meeting.
“We would encourage any kind of petitioner to try to work things out with the local district if at all possible,” said Jim Hammond, the charter commission’s chairman. “We really believe charter schools are best served by local districts.”
At its meeting next month, the commission can grant the charter, deny it or send petitioners back to work things out with the district.
Harbor Method schools have been the subject of intense debate in the Idaho Statehouse in Boise, where Republican lawmakers have been enthusiastic about expanding charter school programs. Harbor founder Becky Stallcop has said she’s done nothing inappropriate with state money.
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