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West Ada school board chairman resigns, mass resignation trend continues across Treasure Valley

West Ada School District
Posted at 2:32 PM, Apr 25, 2022

MERIDIAN, Idaho — The West Ada school board is down a member following the resignation of Rusty Coffelt Monday morning.

Coffelt, who recently assumed the chairman role, announced his intent to step down in a letter to district administration first reported by the Idaho Statesman. Coffelt was appointed to the board in January 2021 and elected chair this year.

West Ada trustees will accept Coffelt's resignation during Monday night's regular board meeting. The resignation will go into effect immediately, according to the resignation letter Coffelt sent to the board.

"I resign my position this evening for no other reason than a need to focus on some personal family matters that will require me to leave the State of Idaho," Coffelt's letter reads. "I find myself sad that I am cutting short the opportunity to work alongside such amazing people, but also filled with great optimism for the future of this school district."

Rusty Coffelt

Coffelt is the second West Ada trustee to step down this year. Former board chair Amy Johnson resigned from the Zone 2 trustee seat in February, citing exhaustion and harassment as her reason for leaving.

"While the entire pandemic has been challenging for everyone, the behaviors of a minority of individuals in our West Ada community in the last six months have been shocking and appalling," Johnson said. "These individuals have threatened me personally, made threats against my children, they have made slanderous and false allegations that were baseless and without proof."

Related: West Ada looks to reimplement COVID-19 exposure notifications, parents would opt-in

Amy Johnson

Last month, the remaining school board members replaced Johnson with Lucas Baclayon, a former teacher and education administrator.

Related: West Ada names new trustee

The West Ada School District will soon open applications for a new Zone 4 trustee to fill Coffelt's absence. Once a new trustee is appointed, the five-person board will include four members that assumed the role this year.

GROWING TREND OF RESIGNATIONS

West Ada isn't alone in experiencing trustee turnover.

Earlier this year, the Nampa School District lost a trustee and superintendent. Mike Kipp, former Zone 2 trustee, resigned from his office in late January. Kipp's letter to parents and district representatives said the "toll" of service and "arguments about the global pandemic" caused his leave.

"At some point along the way, it felt as if the arguments about a global pandemic (and even its legitimacy) had diminished our focus on student achievement," the letter reads. "That was discouraging and even demoralizing."

Related: Nampa school board names interim superintendent, loses two district leaders

Mike Kipp

Nampa trustees appointed Marco Valle to fill Kipp's vacancy in March. With Valle's swearing in, four of Nampa's five trustees are new members.

Related: Nampa appoints new trustee, fills seat vacated by Mike Kipp

Former Nampa Superintendent Paula Kellerer resigned a week later. In her resignation letter, first reported by Idaho Education News, Kellerer attributed her stepping down to a need for "change" and "mutual separation" from the board.

The letter reads:

"Sometimes, values and deeply held individual beliefs are too far apart. When that occurs, it creates division and prevents a district from effectively focusing on the important work of student achievement."

In February, the school board unanimously appointed the district's assistant superintendent for teaching and learning — Gregg Russell — as interim superintendent. Russell continues to act in this capacity.