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School board attorney: Blackfoot superintendent buyout still valid

The somewhat dramatic superintendent secret contract saga in Blackfoot School District 55 may have come to a close on Thursday night.

After some discussion during a public school board meeting on Thursday, an attorney for the board determined the buyout is still valid, and former superintendent Scott Crane is still entitled to his $220,000 payout.

Idaho School Board Association attorney Amy White is the acting lawyer for the Blackfoot School Board. She joined the board by phone on Thursday night during their meeting.

White said Idaho Open Meeting Code Section 2347, subsection 6 states any action brought to challenge an accused violation of the open meeting code must be brought within 30 days. If it is not, the action is valid.

“My interpretation in application would be that the contract you have in front of you would be enforced by a court,” said White to the board on speaker-phone on Thursday night.

Essentially, the $220,000 contract is still valid and will still be paid to Scott Crane.

Crane’s attorney Justin Oleson said the potential breach of contract lawsuit if the board decided to void the contract now would cost the district much more than paying out the contract itself.

White advised the board Crane would likely have a strong breach of contract suit if the contract were voided.

There wasn’t any audible negative reaction when the board ratified the contract, and affirmed its validity on Thursday night.

Throughout the course of reporting this story, many community members in Blackfoot have told our station the issue is more about a lack of transparency from the board. District patron Arvid Jensen spoke to our station at the Blackfoot board’s December meeting, and spoke before the board Thursday night as well.

Jensen repeatedly mentioned concern about transparency issues.

Even before Jensen’s comments, our station’s crew experienced a strange moment on Thursday night, said reporter Caleb James.

James said current superintendent Chad Struhs took him aside before the Thursday meeting began, and told him board interim attorney Amy White said it would be inappropriate for James to have a microphone on the board’s desk that evening.

James said he told Struhs the microphone would remain on the board’s desk, because it was a public meeting.

Crane sent our station this statement on Thursday night, after the board meeting:

“I would like to thank my Blackfoot friends and neighbors for their support through this difficult time. I will always treasure the community where Kathy and I raised our children and gave 26 years of service. I appreciate the public’s patience as I have quietly allowed the legal process to work. I am pleased that the board voted to uphold the contractual separation agreement.”

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