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.”...
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.
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.