Trustees won't respond to complaint

Document alleged discrimination, abuse of power by board members

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COEUR d'ALENE - Coeur d'Alene school trustees won't be responding to a group of citizens' allegations that the five-member school board violated state and local laws, engaged in discrimination and abused their power when they decided last fall to end the Primary Years Programme (PYP) at Hayden Meadows Elementary School.

Ashlie Unruh and Nicole Olson, parents of students who attend Hayden Meadows, received a March 26 letter from Marc Lyons, the board's counsel, advising them that the board would not respond to or take action on the contents of the 20-page document delivered earlier this month to the board.

"The issues raised in your correspondence appear to primarily assert a different view of the information considered, and reflect a disagreement about how the board chose to end programs within the district," Lyons wrote. "While I certainly understand that different individuals and groups felt strongly about whether IB and PYP should be options for students in the Coeur d'Alene School District, after very visible and vigorous debate in open meetings and after receiving input from various representatives of the community, the board ultimately exercised its governance authority and decided to end those programs."

PYP is an elementary school curriculum delivery program offered by the International Baccalaureate Organization. The board terminated the high school-level IB Diploma Programme last summer at Lake City High School.

Board members and other opponents of the IB programs claim the IB's curriculum delivery methods promote political, moral and social ideas they do not agree with. Opponents take issue with the programs' focus on helping students become "global citizens," and believe it is a United Nations effort to indoctrinate school children.

The grievance document delivered to the board has an accompanying online petition that now includes 206 signatures.

Unruh said, in a press release, that the group behind the grievance never questioned the board's authority to end a program, but take issue with the way it was done.

"Essentially, the message they are sending is that they removed a program simply because they had the authority to do so, not because they thoroughly researched unbiased resources, conducted a fair survey like they promised, utilized policy-based information, considered all available facts, or really listened to teachers and parents," stated Unruh, in a press release. "This is not the way a school board should operate. The courtesy response from their attorney only highlights the board's consistent and pervasive pattern of evasiveness and lack of accountability for their actions. If the board was at all interested in restoring trust, they would have responded to these 200 citizens instead of avoiding us."

Olson told The Press they had hoped the board would see the grievance as an opportunity to account for their decision to remove the IB programs.

She said they don't have a specific plan for moving forward, but are considering other options.

"We will look to see if there is another agency that can and will hold them accountable," Olson said.

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