BLACKFOOT, Idaho — The school board in Blackfoot agreed in April to a $210,000 contract buyout with the district’s former superintendent then took steps to keep the payments secret, according to documents the district released under a court order Monday.
The Blackfoot School District 55 released a separation agreement and other records as part of an open records lawsuit filed by former teacher Joyce Bingham and the Post Register in Idaho Falls.
Last week, Sixth District Judge David Nye ruled in favor of Bingham and the newspaper and ordered the district to make public documents related to the separation agreement reached in April with then-superintendent Scott Crane. The records show the board agreed to make two payments of $105,428 to Crane for the remaining two years of his contract.
Crane retired June 30, then days later the district made the first payment to an unnamed recipient. He is now working for the Grand County School District in Moab, Utah. The second payment is scheduled for July 2013. As part of the separation deal, the board and Crane entered a separate nondisclosure agreement to hide the payout.
To ensure no one found out about the deal, the board tried to hide the document in Crane’s personnel file, which is protected by state statute.
Nye rejected the notion the agreement should be withheld from public review simply because the board stashed it in Crane’s personnel file.
Attorney Jared Harris, who represented Bingham, said the documents released Monday vindicate the lawsuit and send a message about government accountability.
“When an entity is using public funds they should disclose the use of the public funds,” Harris said Monday. “The School Board hid its disclosure in every way possible. That’s not right.”