Idaho’s Constitution reads, “No county, city, town, township, board of education, or school district, or other subdivision, shall lend, or pledge the credit or faith thereof directly or indirectly, in any manner, to, or in aid of any individual, association or corporation, for any amount or for any purpose whatever, or become responsible for any debt, contract or liability of any individual, association or corporation in or out of this state.” Art. VIII, § 4. In addition, Art. XII, § 4 provides, “No county, town, city, or other municipal corporation, by vote of its citizens or otherwise, shall ever become a stockholder in any joint stock company, corporation or association whatever, or raise money for, or make donation or loan its credit to, or in aid of, any such company or association....” These so-called Gift Clauses bar state and local governments from using taxpayer money to benefit private interests.
Nonetheless, the Boise Independent School District signed a Master Contract with the Boise Education Association that provides, “The Association president shall be allowed a leave of absence for his/her term of office with salary and benefits to be paid by the Association for the time that the president is released from teaching duties. The District shall reimburse the Association the cost of salary and benefits of a first year teacher…,” that is about $35,000; in addition, she accrues sick leave, vacation, and retirement. The district also grants paid leave to employees attending union events.
On August 31, 2015, the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF), a Boise non-partisan educational research institute and government watchdog, and James Auld, a Boise resident and IFF member, sued the school district and school and union officials in Idaho’s Fourth Judicial District Court in Ada County seeking an order severing the offending contract language, barring the provision of paid leave, and awarding of attorneys’ fees. In October of 2015, Defendants filed an answer; discovery is now complete.
On August 10, 2016, IFF filed a motion to amend the complaint to challenge the new Master Contract and to add Rachel Gilbert, an IFF donor and Boise resident, as a party. Defendants filed motions for summary judgment. On September 16, 2016, the court heard argument on the pending motions.
On October 25, 2016, the court issued an order holding that IFF and Mr. Auld did not have standing, and denying Ms. Gilbert’s request to join the case. On December 1, 2016, the court proposed a judgment that the case be dismissed with prejudice. IFF filed an objection, arguing that, because the case was deciding on lack of standing, any judgment should be without prejudice. The court heard argument on the proposed judgment on January 3, 2017. On January 13, 2017, the court entered judgment in favor of the District and the Association on all claims. On January 26, 2017, the parties filed a joint stipulation, in which plaintiffs waived their appeal rights in exchange for the District and the Association waiving any right to seek attorneys’ fees and expenses.