State charter commission names new director

State charter commission names new director

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Jenn Thompson

Jenn Thompson presents during a Public School Charter Commission meeting.

Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on Jan. 31.

BOISE — The Idaho Public Charter School Commission is staying in house for its next director.

The State Board of Education announced Friday that Jenn Thompson has been named director.

A search committee selected Thompson from four finalists interviewed recently. Thompson has served as the commission’s program manager since 2017.

“The opportunity to serve Idaho’s charter schools as PCSC director is an honor,” Thompson said. “I look forward to learning more and doing more in support of quality schools and choice in education for the people of Idaho.”The commission serves under the State Board and is responsible for authorizing and overseeing about three-fourths of Idaho’s 56 public charter schools.

Thompson succeeds longtime former director Tamara Baysinger, who left the organization in December, amidst tension between the commission and some schools it oversees.

Advocates for some schools accused Baysinger and the commission of “outright lies and hypocrisy” after audio was leaked from an April closed-door meeting. During that meeting, commissioners and staff complained about low performance at some schools the commission oversees and financial “malpractice” at one school. Commissioners discussed closing underperforming schools.

After the audio surfaced, one advocacy group, the Coalition of Idaho Charter School Families, called for the immediate disbandment of the entire commission.

Thompson has worked with charter schools since 2004, serving as a teacher, principal and charter board member. She earned two master’s degrees and has served as director of governance and new school operations in Utah and Idaho, the State Board said.

Commission Chairman Alan Reed welcomed Thompson.“During her time at the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, Jenn has shown a sincere desire to understand each school’s challenges and try to find ways to help and support in any way possible,” Reed said in a written statement.

State Board Executive Director Matt Freeman said Thompson is “trusted and respected by members of Idaho’s public charter school community.”

“She will be a strong leader, both in moving the commission’s work forward and in advancing school choice in Idaho,” Freeman said.

Panelists who conducted the interviews for a new director include:

  • Kurt Liebich, State Board of Education member.
  • Brian Scigliano, Public Charter School Commission member.
  • Michelle Clement Taylor, State Department of Education school choice coordinator.
  • Freeman.
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