Charter commission approves undisclosed offer for unnamed director candidate

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission on Thursday approved an offer for a new director. But commissioners concealed the identity of their preferred candidate, and didn’t publicly approve the details of the offer.

Commissioners on Thursday interviewed three candidates for the troubled position, which has had two resignations this year. After the closed-door interviews and a roughly 30-minute private discussion, the commissioners publicly voted to offer the job to “candidate 913.” 

They did not approve the terms of the offer, including compensation, during the open portion of the meeting.

In a small room in the Statehouse annex, where the commission has been holding its meetings of late, Chairman Alan Reed told Idaho Education News that the commission won’t reveal the identity of its preferred candidate until an offer is accepted. 

“We need to make sure that there’s an offer accepted because, if not, we may have to look to the next candidate,” he said. “We want to…be respectful to them and to the others that we may need to come back to.”

The three candidates are Monica Church, Michelle Dunstan and Jacob Smith. 

Church is the executive director of the Frank Church Institute at Boise State University. Dunstan is a former education director at Anser Charter School in Boise. Smith is the charter commission’s finance program manager, who previously served as the director of operations for Idaho Digital Learning Alliance.

“The top three candidates are all shining examples of what is available in the state of Idaho,” Commissioner Wally Hedrick said during Thursday’s meeting. “I was very pleased with that.”

The commission initially concealed the names of the finalists and refused to reveal their professional backgrounds. 

Idaho law allows public boards to meet privately when discussing hiring. The law also says that the professional background of a state employee is public record, and there’s “some loss of privacy when one accepts a position supported by public money.” 

After Thursday’s interviews, Commissioner Pete Koehler moved to “make an offer to candidate 913 to see if they are willing to accept the position as director of the commission.” Fellow commissioners unanimously supported the motion.

The director is a state employee paid with taxpayer money. The commission is responsible for authorizing and overseeing charter schools across the state. 

The position’s online job posting says it will collect between $108,000 and $118,500 annually. Commissioners said they hope the new director will start by Jan. 1.

Reed said he planned to extend the offer to “candidate 913” Thursday evening and an announcement will follow when it’s accepted. 

Last month, the commission evaluated 16 candidates for the job before selecting three finalists. Alex Adams, Gov. Brad Little’s budget chief, has served as the commission’s interim director since August. 

Previous director Nichole Hall resigned in favor of another job after just two months with the commission. Hall had replaced Jenn Thompson, who resigned in March alongside former commissioner Brian Scigliano. The pair accused the board of acting irresponsibly.

Ryan Suppe

Ryan Suppe

Senior reporter Ryan Suppe covers education policy, focusing on K-12 schools. He previously reported on state politics, local government and business for newspapers in the Treasure Valley and Eastern Idaho. A Nevada native, Ryan enjoys golf, skiing and movies. Follow him on Twitter: @ryansuppe. Contact him at [email protected]

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