Recall election for Lipovac next week
A recall election for Blackfoot School District Zone 1 trustee Peter Lipovac is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28.
Only people living in the Blackfoot School District Zone 1 will be allowed to vote in this recall election.
The point of contention comes down to:
Did Lipovac have or did he need prior approval to travel to a conference in New Mexico and then be able to charge the school district for reimbursement?
William Kniffin started the petition for this recall. Kniffin attends most Blackfoot School Board meetings. On the ballot, Kniffin wrote: "First, documentation exists proving Mr. Lipovac violated Board Policy 839 by not obtaining pre-approval to attend an Indian Education Conference held in New Mexico for which he later charged the district $1,075 upon his return.
"At a special meeting in March, some of the board members knew Pete was traveling to someplace," Kniffin said. "He did not have the proper pre-approval. His travel was approved after the fact.
Blackfoot Board Policy 839 states:
"Travel and the payment of expenses must be pre-approved and related to the employee's job responsibilities.
At the conclusion of the policy, it states that if a trustee is required to travel outside the district, he/she will be paid consistent with those allowed for district employees.
Kniffin also pointed out Blackfoot Board Policy 212 that states, "Individual members of the board have no power separate from the board as a whole. Members of the board have authority only when acting as a board legally in session."
In Lipovac's explanation, he stated that Board Chairman Scott Reese approved this travel after asking if funds were available.
Kniffin continued, "Second, Mr. Lipovac has demonstrated at numerous school board meetings that he is not only advocating but is actively involved in the development of Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy, a Charter School in Fort Hall, Idaho," Kniffin writes.
"By not excusing himself from the votes concerning Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy, he has demonstrated he cannot fairly represent the District in his actions as a board member."
"Lipovac concentrated on the charter school," Kniffin said. "I don't think he's representing our entire zone."
In his response, Peter Lipovac wrote:
"First, Policy 839 does not require Board members to obtain prior approval for travel but I sought it nevertheless.
"My attendance at the National Indian Education Conference was approved by the Chair.
Lipovac referenced Board Minutes on 3/16/12: "Chairman Reese stated that he approved this travel after asking if funds were available."
"Other board members and administrators also knew I was attending the conference," Lipovac wrote. "Upon my return, the School Board unanimously approved my reimbursement."
"This is the first time I've traveled, Lipovac said. "I was following the general operating procedures."
Lipovac continues, "Second, in regard to Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy, I requested and received written guidance from the State of Idaho School Choice Coordinator who responded, "It is the recommendation of the Office of School Choice that the charter schools encourage and support the participation of local school Board members in the planning, development and on-going oversight of charter schools.'
"I will continue to work for kids and the patrons of the district," said Lipovac. "I have really endeavored to do that. In three years, I have only missed one meeting."
The next trustee election takes place in May 2013. Three Blackfoot School District trustees are up for election—Lipovac, Mary Jo Marlow and Dr. Taylor Johansen.