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Blackfoot School Trustee, Voters Face Recall Election

Controversy continued in Blackfoot Thursday night, where School District 55 board trustee Peter Lipovac is in jeopardy of losing his seat.

The board signed off 4 to 2 on a recall election in an obligatory vote at the meeting.

It was a full house and emotions ran high on both sides of the recall efforts. The meeting lasted three hours, half of which was held in executive session.

At the end of February, a recall petition was submitted and certified by the county, alleging Lipovac violated district travel policy when he took a trip to New Mexico for an Indian education conference without pre-approval from the rest of the board.

On Thursday, Bingham County Prosecutor Scott Andrew said he finished looking into whether criminal charges should be filed against the petitioners. He said the petition does not make any false allegations.

Andrew said after extensive review of school district policies, board agendas and listening to a year’s worth of meeting minutes, he found a reasonable explanation exists for making the allegation.

In Andrew’s review statement, he said, “I recognize that there are other ways to dissect Policy 839 and/or the language in the petition to arrive at the conclusion that the statements or representations of the petition are false. However, where there is a reasonable basis for making the allegation in the petition, no charges should be filed.”

Different parties seemed to be interpreting the policies differently. Lipovac supporter Joel Weaver said the trustee practiced same informal approval used by other board members.

Whether or not Lipovac violated policy, voters will have the opportunity to decide if they want to keep him on the board.

“So it’s really up to the voters to sit down, get educated, decide for themselves in their own interpretation of what the policies are: whether it was violated, whether it wasn’t (and) what that means to them,” said Andrew. “

Another issue that’s come up is Lipovac’s participation with a Fort Hall charter school.

Andrew said he was also asked to review whether that’s a conflict of interest, but he said he’s determined it is not.

The recall measure moves to the Bingham County Clerk’s Office. Marlene Jensen said the election will be held August 28 for voters in Blackfoot School District’s Zone 1.

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