UPDATE: Charter School Commission Chairman Alan Reed issued the following response to Monday’s story. He said the recording should not have been made or released to the public.
Many people in several local cities are angry and concerned after a recording of an Idaho Public Charter School Commission Executive Session was accidentally released. But it’s not just the contents of the recording that have raised concerns.
“Please don’t take notes. I don’t want any of these numbers to leave the room,” one commissioner can be heard saying. “So I’m not going to give you anything, just so nothing accidentally walks out the door, I’m just going to use the screen.”
Those remarks were recorded during an April 11 Executive Session. The meeting, which was accidentally recorded and released under a Freedom of Information request, was called to address student data. But the topic of conversation extended way beyond that.
“It’s somewhat disturbing to listen to,” Dr. Dan Cravens, a board member at Bingham Academy and the Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center said after listening to the nearly two-hour-long recording.
“The remarks are very disparaging, they’re very derogatory and they’re rather demeaning to the people of Jerome,” he added.
“What do we do as a society with that town?” That’s what Chairman Alan Reed asked about Jerome, but Reed said it was taken out of context.
“What I really said in the recording was, you know, concerning Jerome, was as a society, what are we going to do to help the town? Because their test scores are way low, charter school and the local district. And I’m just concerned about the children there,” he explained.
But when someone on the recording suggested that Reed, who is the president and co-owner of Reed Dairy, open an ice cream shop in town he replied: “ice cream doesn’t make brain cells.”
Cravens feels that in or out of context, Reed’s comments are unacceptable.
“The remarks he made, there is no appropriate context for,” Cravens said.
But Cravens is actually more concerned with the fact that these topics and others, such as the opening and closing of certain charter schools, came up at all, believing it to be a violation of Opening Meeting Law.
“This is a conversation amongst commissioners that should have been had in the public,” Cravens said.
“So the apology should be, we’re sorry, I think, we’re sorry we broke the law,” Cravens said.
Cravens added that he feels there are good people on the commission and that this incident doesn’t accurately reflect them, but also raised concerns about how many times other instances of the sort have occurred.