A group of citizens has submitted a recall petition against Blackfoot school board member Peter Lipovac to the Bingham County Clerk's office .
The Idaho Code refers to this recall petition as a "prospective petition."
The determination by the clerk triggers a 75-day deadline for whomever is behind the recall effort to submit the required number of signatures to the clerk's office, said Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Andrew. (This is called "perfecting" the petition.)
If the 75-day deadline is met, a recall election will be scheduled. If not, the petition is declared null and void.
The 20 signatures that were presented on the recall petition are required, explained Bingham County Elections Director Marlene Jensen, because one person cannot instigate a recall petition. He/she must show proof there are a number of like-minded people behind the petition.
Election officials have verified that the signatories live in Zone 1, which Lipovac represents, Jensen said.
To put this petition on the ballot, 105 more signatures must be collected from people living in Zone 1.
If they would like this recall to appear on the primary ballot, all signatures must be into the county clerk's office by Friday, March 9, Jensen said. If that deadline is not met, they still have 75 days to collect the signatures. The clerk's office has 15 business days to verify the signatures after which a special election will be scheduled.
The recall petition states the "documentation exists proving Mr. Lipovac violated Board Policy 839 by not obtaining pre-approval to attend an Indian Educational Conference held in New Mexico for which he later charged the district $1,075 upon his return."
Second, the petition states Mr. Lipovac was actively involved in the development of Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy, a Charter School in Fort Hall, Idaho.
"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."
Attorney Bryce Lloyd said his client is concerned that "people are not following what's going on; there needs to be more transparency."
Blackfoot School District Policy No. 212 states that no individual members of the board have power separate from the board as a whole. Members of the board have authority only when acting as a board legally in session.
The board shall not be bound by any action or statement on the part of an individual board member except when such statement or action is in pursuance to specific instructions from the board.
Blackfoot Board policy no. 839 states, "The district will reimburse district employees reasonable travel expenses for travel required by the district to fulfill their job responsibilities, ... Travel and the payment of expenses must be pre-approved and related to the employee's job responsibilities."
According to the constitution of the state of Idaho (Article Viii, Section 4, "No ... school district shall lend, or pledge the credit ... to aid of any individual ... for any amount or for any purpose whatever, or become responsible for any debt, contract or liability of any individual, association or corporation in or out of this state.
Peter Lipovac's response
"I categorically refute and deny that I did anything improper or unethical ... The complaints are spurious, false and retaliatory.
"Regarding my attendance at the National Indian Education Conference, i have proof that this travel was accomplished within the general operating procedures and framework of the Blackfoot School District and School Board. ...
"The other Board members and the Superintendent were well aware of this travel and I received authorization from the Chairman of the School Board to make this trip. Moreover, the district authorized my expense reimbursement , and I worked with district office personnel regarding travel practices, reimbursements, etc., before I traveled and afterwards.
He also provided the school board with a 25-minute oral report and also complied an eight-page written report.
Lipovac stated, "I attended several preliminary planning and implementation meetings ... I have not regularly attended the charter school board meetings."
If the statements on the petition are proven false, felony charges could be brought.