Public hearing not necessary for charter school petition
The Blackfoot School Board of Trustees narrowly passed a motion to refer a petition for a new Fort Hall charter elementary school to the Idaho Public Charter School Commission during their meeting Thursday night.
The motion was made before any presentation from representatives for the proposed Chief Targhee Academy and without a public hearing. Three board members voted in favor of referring the petition to the state—R. Scott Reese, Pete Lipovac and Jenny Hong—and one—Taylor Johansen—voted no. Trustee Mary Jo Marlow abstained from the vote.
Superintendent Scott Crane advised the board that they should conduct a public hearing on the petition to complete their due diligence, and that the petition they received did not indicate a location for the school.
According to Tamara Baysinger, the director of the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, a local school board can refer the decision to the state board without a public hearing, so long as members of the local school board can demonstrate due diligence in reviewing the petition prior to referral. That due diligence must be submitted with the petition to the charter school commission for consideration.
"They don't have to hold a hearing if they are referring," Baysinger said.
Discussion at the school board meeting Thursday night indicated that the district office or some of the trustees may not have received the entire 400-plus page petition, which was emailed to them earlier this week. Crane would not comment whether he received the entire petition.
The petition must now go to the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, which will conduct a public hearing and either approve or deny the petition.
If the commission approves the petition, the school could open no sooner than 2013.
However, state law dictates that only one charter school can be authorized in each district each year. Baysinger said the petition for the Idaho STEM Academy, a proposed charter high school to be located in District 55, is expected prior to their Feb. 9 meeting for a hearing April 5. Baysinger said the charter that receives approval first by the Public Charter School Commission will be the one to open in 2013, regardless of the order the petitions are received.