Luna won't say whether any Idaho teachers are under investigation for ethical violations

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna warned educators last month they could be fired for politicking at school, but says he can't disclose whether any are under investigation.

Luna's spokeswoman, Melissa McGrath, cited advice from legal counsel as the reason for non-disclosure.

Last week, McGrath wrote that "at least 10 informal complaints" had been filed with the 18-member Idaho Professional Standards Commission, the panel that reviews violations of the ethics code for Idaho educators and can strip them of the certification required to teach in public schools.

In a May 13 memo sent to all of Idaho's K-12 school trustees and administrators, Luna said he had received "numerous reports" of ethical violations. He cited this provision from the Code of Ethics for Idaho Professional Educators: “Using institutional privileges for the promotion of political candidates or for political activities, except for local, state or national education association elections.”

Last week, in compliance with a public records request, Luna
released documentation of 25 complaints made to his office on or before May 13, many of which regarded Boise and Meridian schools.

Idaho law provides that the commission "may conduct investigations on any signed allegation of unethical practice of any teacher" brought by "an individual with a substantial interest in the matter," excepting a student in a public school. "The allegation shall state the specific ground or grounds for revocation, suspension or issuance of a letter of reprimand."

The commission's "chief certification officer/Commission administrator may also initiate an allegation if public records indicate a person holding an Idaho credential may have been involved in ethical misconduct," according to the commission's Procedures Manual.

The Statesman filed a public records request seeking the number of signed allegations received by the commission and the number of educators, if any, under investigation for political activity. McGrath replied in a letter Tuesday, writing that "legal counsel reviewed your request and has advised that the Professional Standards Commission cannot comment on pending or ongoing investigations until final action is taken."

Boise and Meridian schools superintendents said last week they were unaware of any of their staff being under investigation. But Meridian Superintendent Linda Clark said an internal investigation by the district prompted the discipline of one staffer for improper advocacy in the district's May 17 levy election campaign. Clark said three others were under investigation for improper email use.

Commission procedures contemplate two steps after initial review of allegations by the commission administrator in conjunction with a deputy attorney general and a commission investigator.

If they decide not to conduct an investigation, the matter is remanded to the school district "to be resolved locally."

If they decide to open an investigation, the complainant and respondent "will be notified in writing in a timely manner that an investigation will be conducted."

On Tuesday, the Statesman reported that Boise Democratic Rep. Sue Chew solicited help from teachers in engaging students in overturning the "Students Come First" reform laws authored by Luna in a referendum election next year. House Minority Leader John Rusche told Chew her action was inappropriate. Chew's email went to almost 800 addressees, but she said no one responded to her request.

In the commission's last annual report, for the one-year period ending June 30, 2010, the panel reported considering 34 cases.

Of those, 12 educators had their certificates revoked or surrendered them voluntarily. Of that dozen, seven had been convicted of crimes. Another five had their certificates suspended.

The Professional Standards Commission is made up of: seven certificated public school classroom teachers; two representatives of community colleges and education departments of Idaho's four public higher education institutions; one representative of the letters and sciences department of the four higher ed institutions; one representative from the education department of one of Idaho's private colleges; one member of Luna's staff; one staffer from the Division of Professional-Technical Education; one representative each from the Idaho School Superintendents Association, Idaho Association of Secondary School Principals, Idaho Association of Elementary School Principals, Idaho School Boards Association and the Idaho Association of Special Education Administrators.

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Teacher Ills

That is the problem with some people who think the rules do not apply to them. They do as they danged well please if they think their view is more important than the law. Typical Democrat-union thinking.

You look rather hypocritically foolish

The Governor says he will campaign for this. Luna and he used school resources to get advocates for it to testify. They both specifically campaigned on school grounds last October.

Worse, you say this when the Speaker of the House refused to investigate State Affairs chairman for killing a bill he had a vested interest in, and which the Speaker himself helped facilitate. It ain't unions who are the thugs. The culture of selfish entitlement permeates the Statehouse.


You seem to have overlooked the fact teachers have a contract and sign a professional code of ethics that prevent such actions by them. Or are teaching contracts and professional code of ethics meaningless to those that sign them.

Legislators are also supposed to follow a code of ethics

Denney seems to have overlooked that also.


Yes, and shouldn't they all be held to those ethics or should teachers be exempt.

No teachers should not be exempt.

But their ethical obligations should be measured against the their rights guaranteed in the first amendment of the Constitution. The same rights being exercised by Luna and Otter. The same two who want to prevent teachers from exercising those rights.

Their First Ammendment rights don't extend to the classroom

Off the job, nobody thinks they should be silenced. I can't badmouth the people I work for when I'm on duty either, regardless of First Amendment rights, so why should a teacher be able too?

But where is that stated in their contract?

And why are elected officials above the law?


Thanks to Luna..teachers don't have contracts anymore.

First Amendment

And, teachers have a First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Interesting that some think, (read Luna) that the right to criticize these ill thought out and disingenuous laws is somehow abrogated by a small section of a code of professional ethics aimed at discouraging partisan poliitical activity, even as Luna and Otter use the full power of their bully pulpit along with corporate money to ram through these laws, on an EMERGENCY BASIS NO LESS. EMERGENCY--WHAT EMERGENCY. They have created an emergency by forcing an increase in property taxes (thanks Jim Risch for sowing the seeds of this one) or having proposed levies voted down because people can't afford the tax increase.

Kinda like the Republican

Kinda like the Republican state legislator who does not think he has to pay taxes?

Luna supporting Larry Craig to the end

Luna seems a little fuzzy on his ethical standards to say the least. To be sure I just went back and reviewed his position on Larry Craig "alleged" improper behavior. There big as life is Tom in the picture on the front page of this paper with Larry supporting him right up to his resignation.

who else

You might want to also list all the others shown in the picture --

Many of them were because they committed child sex crimes.

Nobody who complains about the paper actually reads it, do they?


Just because it's a WORLD wide web doesn't mean anybody past Jordan Valley cares! Get drunk and give us that crappy singing voice we missed.

What about tenure

I thought "tenure" stoped teachers from getting fired:

"Of those, 12 educators had their certificates revoked or surrendered them voluntarily. Of that dozen, seven had been convicted of crimes. Another five had their certificates suspended."

Maybe it was just rhetoric to fire up an uneducated base.... Like JLF

Tenure doesn't protect you from being fired

But it does make it very difficult to do so. Something that could get a private sector employee fired immediately can take weeks or months and cost a lot of money in the process.

There is no tenure, never was....

"Tenure" is only used at the University level here in Idaho. The term was applied to the current situation to fire up the base and to create an enemy. I'm just pointing out examples that contradict the rhetoric. Hopefully some people get more educated about what they are being sold.

Also, even if it is "difficult" to fire teachers, who cares as long you can get rid of the ones who deserve it?

Not True

Tenure also means if a layoff occurs, teachers with less seniority get laid off first. Some of those newer teachers have far superior talent and education then older wons comforted by the fact they don't need to compete to stay employed. Taking away tenure gives notice mediocracy will not be tolorated. Harsh perhaps, but it's all about the best possible education for the kids right? Thats what I keep hearing sll the opponents breying about.


You speak of senority. It happens everywhere.

"Tenure commonly refers to life tenure in a job and specifically to a senior academic's contractual right not to have his or her position terminated without just cause."

No, drako,

tenure is NOT the same as seniority.

Stop foaming at the mouth to make a non-point.

Time and money

"Also, even if it is "difficult" to fire teachers, who cares as long you can get rid of the ones who deserve it?"

I would say how you feel about that is pretty much a personal decision. I can see where employee rights are very important to keep someone from getting railroaded out of a job. On the flip side, the Skelly process takes time and money that wouldn't otherwise be spent.

As for tenure, once you're a public employee with union representation, you pretty much have tenure once you're off probation. That's from personal observation.

Cite evidence,

not antecdotes.

Apparently, Supt. Luna has

placed them on double secret probation.

Stupid Ninja Devil Naught Naughts chewing gum again.


If you could handle the truth, you wouldn't be spoiling our social hour right now.

I hope teachers show up at redictricting hearings

to ask a question:

With the Idaho Legislature cutting money from almost every program, especially education (for example, the Meridian District has announced plans to eliminate 100 teachers for budget reasons) isn't it right to reduce the size of the legislature as well?

Cutting the legislature from 35 to 30 districts would eliminate 15 legislators. Maybe the money saved could be used to educate our kids. That would be ethical.

I agree

and they should start with districts 16, 17, 19, 29, and 30

Politics party rule worked great in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China, Chile, etc. That's a fine idea you have there Bailey Tse Tung.


The number of districts should be an odd number for parlimentary purposes but also the House could be reduced from 70 to half that number. 35 senators and 35 representatives would be just fine. Why the 2 representatives and 1 senator per district? Constitutional requirement?

The Idaho Legislature decides the number of House members,

according to the Idaho Constitution. If you hope the legislature will downsize itself, good luck. A better option is the Reapportionment Commission reducing the number of districts overall.

Seems fair, with every other state agency/service being cut.

Luna can't tell you anything he doesn't really know.


If you could handle the truth, you wouldn't be spoiling our social hour right now.

Would you buy a used car from Mr. Luna?

Just like the alleged vandalism on his truck, we will never know. Luna is adept at playing the sympathy/persecution card.


That comment from someone with a handle of "Boohoo." LOL

Yet they never had to add a number or misspell it....BAH


If you could handle the truth, you wouldn't be spoiling our social hour right now.

Luna playing politics

2 words for the truly educated in Idaho. RECALL LUNA!

the rest of Idaho that seems to be a majority..follow the twit you voted him in! an online degree in weights and measures ..what a joke and a disgrace....any other states have such a highly educated individual as state superintendent? may Mississippi...Texas? ...

Hey Republicans

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
Matthew 7:5

That James cat was dyslexic methinks and what up of it?


If you could handle the truth, you wouldn't be spoiling our social hour right now.

TimT -

republicans don't get your reference.
Idaho republicans have a special book to interpret the actual bible for them.
And if they don't consult the special interpretive book, they just look to their blood oath for interpretation.


Sue, Sue Chew.

The Profesional Standards Commision Must Be Reformed

This commission is not stacked with Luna/Otter lap dogs. Look for that to change next legistlative session.


Wasn't somebody going to shoot--

Well you blew it I guess. So much for all the naught naughtin'


If you could handle the truth, you wouldn't be spoiling our social hour right now.

Must be pretty nice

you can have a job that you were never qualified for.
you get to change the rules to fit a national agenda and have no original ideas of your own.
you get to lie to every voter in the state during the campaign.
you get to impose new policy based on a mandate you really don't have because it was an anti ObamaCare election and really had nothing to do with who just the R and the D.
you get to use state resources to promote your political agenda using taxpayer money.
and to top it get to be exempt from a nuisance thing called ethics.
Bonus, when there are thousands of educators you get to call foul to 25 complaints, 8 filed by 2 people, to say "they are just picking on me and violating code. oh woe!"

72K signatures and a referendum coming. Hey otter, lori and luna, get out a dictionary and see if you can wrap your head around REFERENDUM.

from an R from 1986 till January 2011.


He must be like Pinocchio except everytime he lies he gains another pound. This dude is a porker and is getting larger every day. Hey fatty quit BS'ing everybody before you pop like a balloon.

Your arguments may be absurd but .......

you always maintain that certain sense of class.

Now, that's not nice

Now, that's not nice. Don't you know that Tom's campaigning for the Biggest Loser? One has to be committed to these things. Just ask Jillian:

Jillian: I got to figure out what's going on in Tom's head.


Jillian: Forget it. He's just looking for the next piece of pie. There's no helping him once he's got the illness--it's called power and money. No better way to pander to the fat cats than to appear to be one yourself. [exit Jillian; Tom heads for the Capitol Building buffet]

Larry the Cable Guy: Now, that's funny right there--I don't care who you are, that's good stuff. Lord, help me for making fun of Tom...I promise never to do it again.

Where will it all go?

I worked for a company that told us that if we took company pens, pencils, paper, etc. home we were guilty of stealing from the company. I don't know how many times I went home and found a company pen in my shirt pocket at the end of the day. Was I being unethical? I used pens all day long (sometimes to write personal checks to pay bills--shhh). I wonder what they would've thought if they knew I occassionally used my company e-mail to meet a buddy for a beer after work?

What is a fight worth taking up? Does this only appy to political issues that Luna opposses? or do we punish teachers for sending any e-mail that does not pertain to work? Luna should be careful with this one, because he may open up a hornet's nest that requires bigger government to oversee (directly or kicking it down with mandates), and we all know how much we Idahoans hate bigger gov'ment. What's next, company "Mail-checker" replacing my spell-checker?

Let me see your papers! These papers are not in order, Comrade! And you call yourself a Nazi?! Pathetic!

But my soothsayer intuition informs me that Luna will use this to further his anti-teacher rhetoric that others are so willing to buy and then redistribute to blog sites and talk radio shows (not to mention Tea Party meetings).