Parents have tried so hard to engage School Board Chair Amy Johnson.
We've attended meetings by the hundreds, sent emails by the thousands, and stood in line at the district office by the tens of thousands.
But none of that seemed to matter. Instead, Amy Johnson arranged to keep healthy kids out of school expressly to "incentivize people to do the right thing" because she's frustrated by our public health officials' indecision.
But Central District Health did decide — against mandates. So why does she feel compelled to make public health decisions when her first and greatest concern as a Trustee is the educational welfare of students?
And then I found the answer.
Amy is a Director of Idaho's largest health insurance corporation, Blue Cross. And it suddenly made sense why every Covid policy discussion is framed entirely as an epidemiological concern without regard to educational impact. Moreover, if you think having a health insurance executive making health decisions for a School Board is a conflict of interest, you're right. In fact, West Ada expressly forbids this:
The [Conflict of Interest] policy is designed to prevent placing a Trustee in a position where the Trustee’s interest in the public schools and interest in his/her place of employment might conflict, and to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, even though such a conflict may not exist.
So I read this policy to Amy, word for word, and asked her to recuse herself at an absolute minimum.
But she refused. She doesn't see the conflict. To her, it's not a problem.
And that's the problem.
Her entire career revolves around health care. She was the public health policy analyst for the State Legislature for six years. She worked at Molina Health Care for five. She's now at Blue Cross. It's what she works on all day before she heads down to the District Office. It's impossible for this not to bias her judgement.
That's why she had the Board revise Dr. Bub's plan two days before the first day of school in the first place. It's why she invites her colleagues from private health providers to that meeting and allowed them to speak longer than the public. It's why she asked each public presenter to frame their answers in terms of her own perspective. And since she is ambivalent to the appearance of such machinations to the public, it's why things will never change — unless we change it.
Please understand we don't want to do this. Recall is a painful, difficult process that isn't good for anyone: not the District, not the Parents, and certainly not Amy. We've suggested alternatives, like Nampa's plan that focuses on education first. Or the West Ada Parents Association's True North plan. Or a parent committee which was promised but never delivered. Or a district survey. Or a mask-mitigation strategy. Or anything besides this divisive and capricious policy that exempts football but not your Kindergarten classroom.
Recall might not be the ideal option, but it's the only one we've got left. Because we see Amy Johnson putting her career ahead of our kids, and we won't accept it. We can't.
We Must Put Kids First.