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.
NCA’s charter was yanked by the commission because panel members weren’t confident in the financial soundness of the school. NCA parents and officials say that the commission unfairly singled out their school because of its desire to use religious texts, like the Bible, in the classroom.
The money for the hearing came out of the budget of the Idaho State Board of Education, and totaled $5,737.00. The bulk of the money went to Meridian-based attorney Kenneth Mallea, who served as the hearing officer for the June 11 commission meeting. Though Mallea’s contract with the commission stated that he could only earn up to $3,500 for his work at a rate of $165 per hour, his law office in Meridian billed the Idaho State Board of Education for $4,001.25.
Several charges anticipated by the commission prior to the meeting did not go through, however. Commission chair Bill Goesling, a resident of Moscow, was originally expected to fly down and attend the meeting, but he ended up not being present. Had he decided to attend, it would have meant an additional $300 in airfare, $170 in hotel room charges, and $33.50 for Goesling’s per diem for two meals.
Tamara Baysinger, administrator for the commission, told IdahoReporter.com in an e-mail Wednesday that the work the commission gave Mallea to do took longer than previously expected. “The original purchase requisition was based on an estimate of the amount of time Mr. Mallea would need to spend on work related to the hearing. The actual time required was greater than our estimate, with the result that the purchase requisition needed to be amended to reflect a higher actual expense,” said Baysinger. She explained that the attorney’s work was not conducted in a single day, but rather that he had to do several hours of outside work and research to be prepared for the commission meeting.
State agencies often use lawyers from the attorney general’s office to represent them in legal proceedings. Baysinger said in this instance, the commission couldn’t utilize the practice. “In the interest of objectivity, it is standard practice for a state entity to obtain services from outside the attorney general’s office when a hearing officer is required,” she said.
The state also ponied up for other expenses, including $300 for the rental of a conference room at a hotel in Boise, which came with a $100 charge for rental of audio/visual equipment. Baysinger said the commission couldn’t use the already-equipped and free-of-charge Statehouse for the meeting because it was booked that day. “The hotel facility was used because we were unable to book a state-owned venue adequate for the proceedings,” said Baysinger in a document obtained by IdahoReporter.com. “When our staff inquired regarding rooms in the Capitol, they were informed that space was unavailable due to a youth event taking place that day.”
Commission members were also treated to lunch and two breaks for refreshments also provided for by the state at a cost of $210. Another portion of the total went to pay for the services of a court reporter to transcribe the meeting, which cost $120 for the appearance fee and an additional $698.75 to pay for the actual transcription. On the receipt for court reporter, in hand writing it says that the commission “was not aware of the additional $698.75 for transcription.”