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Charter commission director resignation creates new round of instability

Idaho- Following this week’s resignation, the Idaho Public Charter School Commission is beginning the search for its third director in the span of six months.

“We’ll get an interim and move forward,” said commission chairman Alan Reed by phone Thursday.

However, Bluum CEO Terry Ryan expressed concern, because the commission is critical to ensuring the financial and academic quality and integrity of the vast majority of Idaho’s public charter schools. Bluum is a nonprofit that helps develop charter school growth throughout Idaho.

The IPCSC is the largest authorizer in the state with 62 charter schools; public school districts authorize 12 charter schools. The Legislature created the commission in 2004 to provide oversight. The commission’s seven board members are volunteers, appointed by the governor and the Legislature.

“The state, the federal government and philanthropy have made multi-million dollar investments in Idaho public charter schools, while most importantly thousands of families have invested their children’s futures in these schools,” Ryan said.

“Quality has to be job one for all of us working in our public charter school space. This work is made harder when our public oversight agency is in disarray. The turnover of two executive directors in a matter of weeks is symptomatic of an organization that is troubled,” he said.

Commission director Nichole Hall submitted her resignation this week to accept a new job “that is appropriate for the current stage of my career.” She served as director for just under two months. The previous director, Jenn Thompson, resigned in early March.

Thompson and commissioner Brian Scigliano resigned in March because they felt several recent commission decisions were irresponsible. Thompson is now the chief planning and policy officer for the Office of the State Board of Education.

“I still feel (Hall) was the perfect one for the job. She had a vision of where we wanted to go as commissioners and she was doing a really good job working on that,” Reed said.

Hall expressed mixed feelings about leaving but said, “When I initially applied for the position, I had applied for several other employment opportunities that were of interest to me and were suited for my professional background. Recently, I received an offer for” one of those positions.

The governor appointed Pete Koehler in June to fill Scigliano’s vacancy, leaving one more vacancy on the commission. His last appointment, Karen Echeverria, was rejected by the Senate in an uncommon move. In leading the campaign against Echeverria, Sen. Lori Den Hartog said she wants to see a commission that fills a dual role of advocacy and regulation.