Late task force agenda may not violate open government laws

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s Task Force on Education Indoctrination meets at 1 pm Thursday at the Idaho Capitol’s Lincoln Auditorium, but members of the public may not have known until today. The meeting notice and agenda weren’t posted on the lieutenant governor’s website until mid-afternoon Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the meeting is scheduled to begin.

Idaho’s Open Meeting Law says public agencies must give a five-day notice for regular meetings, and post agendas at least 48 hours before the meeting. (Special meetings have a shorter timeline.)

But that might not be an issue for the task force. As McGeachin’s task force wasn’t created by executive order, statute, legislative act, or ordinance, it likely isn’t subject to Idaho’s Open Meeting Laws, said Scott Graf, public information officer for the Idaho Attorney General’s Office. The task force also doesn’t meet the definition of a public agency.

Because McGeachin is an elected official, the task force is still subject to public records laws, another part of Idaho’s government transparency statutes. McGeachin’s office is currently fighting the release of public comments submitted to the task force.

McGeachin, who is running for governor, announced the formation of the task force in early April “to protect our young people from the scourge of critical race theory, socialism, communism, and Marxism.” It isn’t yet clear if the task force will make policy recommendations at its conclusion, or if it will merely highlight perceived issues with curriculum in Idaho schools.

In recent weeks, the Boise and Coeur d’Alene School Districts have publicly responded to questions and records requests concerning their curriculum, with Coeur d’Alene calling accusations of teachers using critical race theory in lessons “baseless and inflammatory assertions” that “serve only to diminish the work of our dedicated team of teachers and instructional leaders. “

Critical race theory is the academic study of racism’s legacy in society and public policy, decried by critics as a divisive and discriminatory.

Even if the task force isn’t subject to Open Meeting Law, McGeachin said at its formation meetings would be open to the public, both in person and online. You can view the agenda on the lieutenant governor’s website here, and watch the meeting live on Thursday via Idaho In Session.

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