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Durst: Application requires adoption of minutes

Hagadone News Network | July 22, 2023 1:00 AM

PRIEST RIVER — New West Bonner County School District Superintendent Branden Durst said the delay in submitting his application for provisional certification to lead the school district stems from one thing: He's following Idaho law.

"At this time, my application has not been submitted because board minutes have not yet been approved reflecting the board's approval of the emergency declaration," Durst said in an email.

Durst said the "required step" has slowed his application and that sending it before the minutes are approved would be premature.

"Once all required processes are completed, we will submit the application to the state board," Durst said.

However, Idaho State Department of Education officials said they just need the date the declaration of emergency was approved and the date of Durst's hire.

The declaration was declared June 28, during a special board meeting when Durst was hired by a 3-2 vote, with trustees Troy Reinbold, Susan Brown and Keith Rutledge voting in favor. Trustees Margaret Hall and Carlyn Barton voted against.

The emergency declaration, which allows the district to hire a superintendent without the appropriate certification pending emergency certification by the state, passed on the same 3-2 vote.

"Idaho Code 33-1203 says, 'but in emergencies, which must be declared, the state board may authorize the issuance of provisional certificates based on not less than two years of college training,” Maggie Reynolds, ISDE public information officer, said in an email.

While a section of the eight-page application for a superintendent to receive a provisional certificate reads that a board must have declared an emergency for the position and recorded that declaration in its official minutes, there is no requirement beyond that, Reynolds said.

"It does not get so specific as to address the approval of those minutes," she said.

Per Idaho law, superintendents must hold an administrator certificate and an endorsement as a superintendent. That certificate requires a doctorate or comparable education, four years spent working in a school, time spent as an administrative intern and completion of a post-master's degree in an approved school superintendent program. In addition, Idaho law requires that an individual receive an institutional recommendation for a superintendent endorsement.

Durst does not have the credentials to serve as superintendent and must receive provisional certification from the Idaho Board of Education in order to act in that role.

Review and approval of provisional certificates are under the sole purview of the State Board of Education. Once the application is received by the office, it will be packaged for a vote by the state board.

While supporters applauded Durst's hire, saying he brings a fresh perspective needed to solve the troubled district’s problems, critics say he lacks the necessary qualifications to run a school district as well as an understanding of the community.

Durst's selection was the catalyst for a recall of trustees Rutledge and Brown, with organizers saying it shows the pair are out of touch with the community, its values and its wishes.