Nampa Classical Academy

BOISE, Idaho — A defunct Idaho charter school exhausted its appeals Monday in a legal battle with state officials who barred the use of the Bible and other religious texts as a historical teaching tool in the classroom.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Nampa Classical Academy's federal lawsuit. The Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based group representing the school's founders, expressed disappointed with the decision...

Public schools nationwide have traditionally avoided Bible courses — and the potential controversy surrounding them — but hundreds do offer voluntary classes.

In Idaho, the founders of Nampa Classical Academy tangled with state officials over the use of the Bible and other religious texts shortly after opening in August 2009 with more than 500 students...
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
BOISE — Leaders with Nampa Classical Academy made little progress Wednesday in attempts to convince state officials that their school should remain open after this academic year.

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission has told academy officials that they could revoke the new school’s charter for a number of problems the commission has identified regarding the school’s operations. At a meeting in Boise, Charter Commission members continued to express deep concerns — especially about proof of the school’s financial soundness.

Some commissioners also voiced concern about a list of books provided by the school that showed religious texts the commission expressly barred use of in August. Academy officials said the school’s teachers were not using the books and they should not have been on the list.

Commissioner Esther Van Wart was surprised that NCA Treasurer Terry LaMasters didn’t bring to the meeting written documentation of a $400,000 loan the school listed on its budget.

“Does that not scare you guys?” Van Wart asked NCA officials about the commission’s prospect to revoke the school’s charter. “To me this is a terrifying thing to face and to hear you say, ‘I didn’t bring it with me.’”

A budget that has not been updated to the satisfaction of the commission, the $400,000 loan to the school the school counts as revenue, and budget errors were among the items that raised the commission’s concerns.

The academy will have a hearing before the commission to discuss the state panel’s intent to revoke the school’s charter June 11.

Revocation of the charter would mean the school would be closed.

NCA board chairman James Lorenzen said the commission’s demands are reasonable.

“We will have the documents they’re requesting,” Lorenzen said. “I don’t know if we will be able to convince them of our fiscal stability, (but) we will be financially solvent.”

The commission Wednesday discussed several notices of defect given to the school and the school’s plans to address those defects, called corrective action plans. Only one defect, regarding proper teacher certification, was removed.

“They have not made much progress in meeting their corrective action plans,” Commission Chairman Bill Goesling said. “The information they’re providing us is not even updated.”...
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Judge dismisses Nampa charter school lawsuit (Greenwich Time, May 18, 2010)
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the state by a Nampa charter school over plans by school administrators to use the Bible and other religious texts as a classroom teaching tool.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge dismissed the case Monday filed by the Nampa Classical Academy.

School administrators sued the state and the Idaho Public Charter School Commission in September after the commission barred the school from using religious texts in the classroom. At the time, the school's attorney, David Cortman, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, complained that he had never seen such a broad-reaching ban on using the Bible as a resource in public schools.

But the judge sided with the state and commission, saying the ban did not violate the school's rights, the Idaho Press Tribune reported.

The state and commission "have acted according to the laws of the State of Idaho and the demands placed upon them by the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution," Lodge wrote in his 26-page decision. School administrators "simply are not the master of the content of the public school curriculum in Idaho. That responsibility falls squarely upon the Defendants who have acted appropriately."

Charter school founder and board member Mike Moffett said no decision has been made whether to appeal the ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court banned ceremonial school Bible readings in 1963 but said "the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities" so long as material is "presented objectively as part of a secular program of education."

Public schools across the country have traditionally avoided Bible courses and the potential controversy, but hundreds do offer voluntary classes to students.

The judge's decision may not be the last setback for the fledgling academy, which opened its doors last fall and enrolled more than 550 students, making it one of the state's biggest charter schools.

The commission is expected to hold a hearing next month to discuss its intent to revoke the school's charter, a move that could lead to its closure.

One reason cited by the commission for revocation is an allegation the school has not fully complied with the order to avoid using religious texts in teaching. School officials insist they have not used the Bible or other texts as teaching tools since being warned.

School administrators had planned to use the Bible as a primary source of teaching material but not to teach religion. The academy said the Bible would likely be introduced in the ninth grade, when students delve into the history of Western civilization, and taught for its literary and historic qualities and as part of a secular education program.

School officials also announced this week they intend to end classes early after failing to get a federal grant they had been expecting to help cover costs at the end of the year.

Information from: Idaho Press-Tribune,
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Nampa charter school due to end classes early (The Idaho Statesman, AP, May 18, 2010)
NAMPA, Idaho — A public charter school that's been at odds with the state over its curriculum almost since it was founded is ending its classes prematurely after declaring a financial emergency.

The Nampa Classical Academy's classes will end Friday for kindergarten through eighth-graders, and May 25 for ninth graders. They had been slated to end June 10. School officials say they'll still meet the statutorily-required instruction time.

The Press-Tribune reported the school didn't get $166,290 in federal Title 1 funding it had been expecting. Title 1 is money for schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families.

On Monday, board Chairman James Lorenzen said not getting the Title 1 funding "creates a dire situation for this academy."

This cash crunch is just the latest furor to surround the taxpayer-funded school, which opened last September with more than 550 students and plans to use the Bible as a primary source of teaching material.

Last year, the school sued Idaho officials in federal court, saying the state illegally barred use of the Bible as an instructional text.

Idaho officials are now planning hearings for June to consider whether to revoke Nampa Classical Academy's charter, a move that would shutter the school, because it has failed to provide the state with financial documents on time.

The announcement of the money woes prompted Nampa Classical Academy officials, parents and teachers to spend several hours Monday discussing the situation - and how to raise money.

Some worry that the cash problems will reflect poorly as the school tries to convince the state to allow it to continue to operate.

One school secretary, Annette Reese, offered $5,000, to help bridge the gap. Another person offered $200 a month. School officials and parents estimated they'd raised more than $13,000 total by the end of the meeting.
The board also set another meeting Wednesday to discuss renegotiating contracts for faculty, given the financial problems.

"Essentially what they're saying is that for programs that are outside the box but working very well they don't qualify," board member Erik Makrush said, on why the school didn't get the Title 1 funding.


Anonymous said...

Please note that you that failed to post any news stories that actually defines the excellent curriculum and testing results the academy has received in only one year... its probably not in your biased interest to post ALL the stories, huh?

must be funded by the status quo teachers union who are being completely out performed by those pesky little charter schools.

Anonymous said...

I notice there is very little to no opinions posted to your blog. Are you even viewed or do you only post illogical comments from your like minded Kool-Aid drinkers?

The Perimeter Primate said...

Anonymous #1: Please paste whatever link you like in the comments section here.

Anonymous #2: This is a compilation of material of my choosing. If you would like to start your own blog, please feel free to do so.

Anonymous said...

Couple quick comments: There has been a lot that NCA has had to overcome. #1 The previous board made some decisions that seemed reasonable in the beginning of the school, however they backfired. They hired a Management company who specializes in the management of charters-- this for whatever reason failed. Records were not easily accessed nor stored properly, NCA office thought management were handling things so there was from the beginning some communication issues. #2 When most of that board resigned for numerous reasons, the new board walked into a huge mess. Instead of jumping in and moving forward, they had to basically start from the beginning (1.5yrs of work) trying to see what had happened, correct issues, improve issues, were in numerous meetings, addressing Commission issues while trying to solve, plan, implement & renegotiate contracts to save money all while working full time jobs. They did fail from time to time, but they did the best they could putting in more hours than you can imagine. It has been a huge task. #3 Having budget changes, timelines & docs-- every time they renegotiated a contract or other needs arose, budgets had to be resubmitted. Unfortuately, these changes did not always happen & get voted on in time to be submitted to Commission due to their 30day policy. With all that has transpired, a lot needed to be changed in 30days. Terry LaMasters did not have the contract due to the company sent a representative to the meeting to speak on the academy's behalf since the finalization of the loan was not able to be completed before the 30days & the Commission DOES NOT accept ANY paperwork on the day of the Commission Meeting. The alleged mistake on the line item was actually the Commission's error in reading the document, the information was 4 lines below what they were reading.

I understand that everyone has a point a view and with all the 'bad' media & information out, it is easy to believe all you read. I agree that NCA needs to get information out quicker so readers will have a better perspective, however they must seek out legal counsel in many circumstances and many things must go through several hands in order to post information.

I am not trying to convince those against charters that they are good, I am just asking for an even playing field, whether private school, homeschool, public school or charter... there are great ones, middle of the road, and not so great... it does not make the whole group bad.

Just my two cents...

The Perimeter Primate said...


"In revoking the charter of the Nampa Classical Academy (NCA) last month, the state of Idaho spent more than $5,000 to conduct the proceedings, including spending money to fund coffee breaks and lunch for those in attendance. Charges incurred by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, the oversight board for the state’s charter schools, would have amounted to more, however, had its chairman attended the meeting…"