- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho Republican candidates running for statewide and legislative offices stopped at a public charter school, where they were greeted by the student body, while traveling on a campaign bus tour.

The Spokesman-Review (https://bit.ly/1DDTDDD) reported that the Oct. 24 visit raises questions over whether the stop violated the state’s Board of Education’s Code of Ethics for Idaho Professional Educators. The code forbids schools from promoting political candidates or political activities.

Pictures of the event show campaign signs posted in front of Gooding’s North Valley Academy Public Charter School with students assembled on the lawn. The school string orchestra played and students sang the national anthem.

North Valley school board chairwoman Deby Infanger said it wasn’t a campaign event. While Infanger said she wasn’t there, she described it as a visit from the governor.

“It was outside. And he does what governors do, he supports public education, and I think it was very appropriate to thank him and sing the national anthem with him,” Infanger said.

Idaho Republican Party Executive Director David Johnston says he wasn’t aware the academy was a public school. He added Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s campaign staff arranged the stop.

“It was a great stop,” he said. “The pictures, I think, said it all. It was a great crowd, a good turnout. We rolled up there and everybody was out on the front lawn, and the band did a great job on their performance.”

Otter’s campaign spokeswoman did not immediately respond to the Spokesman-Review’s request for comment.

Sherri Ybarra, the Republican candidate of state superintendent for public instruction, wasn’t on the GOP bus tour on Oct. 24. However, she shared a photo of the tour stopping at the school on her campaign’s Facebook page. The caption said: “”The Idaho GOP Bus Tour received a warm welcome at North Valley Academy in Gooding. Their student band played for us and did an amazing job! We’re on our way to Wendell!”

The state superintendent is in charge of enforcing Idaho’s education ethics code.

Ybarra’s campaign spokeswoman Melinda Nothern didn’t respond to The Associated Press’ calls or emails asking if Ybarra believed the campaign bus visit at North Valley Academy was appropriate for a public charter school.

In 2011, State Superintendent Tom Luna sent a memo to all district superintendents, charter school administrators and school board trustees outlining the ethics code prohibitions, and warning against “allowing the use of the school to further political agendas in conjunction with any school activity or event.”

In his memo, he wrote, “If substantiated, each is a violation of the Code of Ethics and is punishable by a letter of reprimand, the placing of conditions on the educator’s certificate or the suspension or revocation of the educator’s certificate. . Those whose certificates are suspended or revoked can no longer be employed by an Idaho public school.”

Luna’s spokesman Brady Moore declined to confirm or deny if the state’s Professional Standards Commission was looking into the bus tour event or if a complaint had been filed.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, https://www.spokesman.com

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