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Branden Durst superintendent contract approved amid controversy

Durst was selected by the school board by a 3-2 vote but he still needs a special emergency provisional certificate from the State Board of Education.

BONNER COUNTY, Idaho — Former lawmaker and state superintendent candidate Brandon Durst was appointed superintendent for the West Bonner County School District on Wednesday night.

The process is still pending state board approval.

The West Bonner County School District board voted to approve Mr. Branden Durst as the new district superintendent, the vote was 3-2.

It appeared the board chair, Keith Rutledge, wanted to go into executive session for the meeting, that was prevented by a vote 2-3 board vote that needed two-thirds majority.

The meeting itself, sort of a scattered public meeting.

There seemed to be confusion and debate about a number of details and processes involving Durst's contract and a provision that would give legal protection to his wife if Durst were to be sued in civil court.

Maybe a case of flying the plane while building it, the West Bonner school board sat quietly for extended periods while they checked details and facts of the matter.

Viewers in-person and online noticed Durst sitting in a room behind the board watching on as debates and votes continued.

Like other meetings on this topic, a full and passionate crowd was in attendance. They were very vocal going back and forth with the board on a few occasions.

Some in the crowd tried to compose the audience.

Ultimately, the board voted to approve a contract for essentially two years with the understanding that it is not an automatic contract renewal and there needs to be a review of Durst at the end of the year.

 So, by a vote of 3-2 the board said Durst is the guy for the job, however, something more to consider:

One of the requirements for Durst to get the district job, or any superintendent job in Idaho, is to have four years of full-time certificated experience working with students while under contract with an accredited school. Which Durst doesn't have.

So, he needs a special emergency provisional certificate through the state. For that to happen, the school board needed to declare an emergency.

One board member, Carlyn Barton, spoke up saying she didn't see an emergency that would allow for the certificate.

"I do not see a need for our district to declare a state of emergency at this time,” Barton said in-part. “We currently have a candidate and potentially a few others in the district that are certified and able to fill as an interim superintend that position. Furthermore, from the research I have done, the superintendent candidate that was voted in is not currently qualified or able to fulfill all the duties of a public-school superintendent. Even with an emergency certification. The direction of our board has turned into a fascist dictatorship with an agenda which is far from our conservative point of view and no way open to uniting the board employees of this district or community. The direction or agenda that has been kept from the members, not only from the board, but our community."

The board approved the declared emergency and ended that portion of their meeting.

So, what happens next?

The school board and Mr. Durst will fill out an application to the State Board of Education for an emergency provisional certificate.

That will end up with the State Board where they can approve the certificate or not by a vote.

If they do approve the idea, Durst becomes the superintendent with the implication that he is expected to catch up his qualifications as he can.

If the state board says no, process of finding a superintendent in West Bonner will continue.

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