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Request denied

September 12, 2012

Officials of Blackfoot School District No. 55 have rejected a patron's request to view copies of a payout in the amount of $105,428 on July 2, 2012.
Former Blackfoot High School teacher Joyce Bingham discovered the payout from the Blackfoot School District 55 Bank account when she examined public records. The payment was made using using 'Auto Pay-Zions Bank' (Salt Lake City, UT) and is noted on the expenditure description as AP Contract Services.
Bingham addressed the school board last month with her request to see copies of the paperwork, saying she simply wants to know "who was paid (and why they were paid) this large sum of money and how is it benefiting students in District 55?"
Bingham said she received a letter from interim superintendent Chad Struhs at 4:30 p.m. last Friday (still within the 10-day response time allowed by law) stating "that the issue is regarding personnel and that under the legal advice of the district's attorney, her request to see the papers was denied."
Bingham questions the district's decision to deny her request, asking, "How can it be about personnel if the paid out amount is listed under contracted services?"
In the event of a personnel matter, Idaho Public Records Code 9-340C(1) "requires disclosure of a current or former employee's or public official's employment history, classification, pay grade and step, longevity, gross salary and salary history, status, workplace and employing agency."
"Where is the transparency and integrity of my school board? What vendor was paid and what services were provided? How can they spend this money and we [the patrons] not see who is being paid? " Bingham asked. "The patrons in this district need to be concerned. That's a lot of money that could help a lot of kids."
Bingham, who retired from the school district four years ago, said she has a personal interest in where district funds are going, because as a former Family and Consumer Science teacher, she knows first hand how deeply cuts were made within the district.
Bingham has been advised that if she wishes to further pursue this matter, that she should seek legal counsel.
Interim superintendent Chad Struhs was out of town Tuesday and was unavailable for comment. Attempts were made to reach other members of the school board by phone for comment; however, the calls were not returned.

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