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Since its creation in 1977, MSLF has been one of the Nation's leading legal centers fighting to ensure that the federal government remains a limited government and a government of laws and not men and women. MSLF recognizes that the Constitution was written, not to protect the various units or levels of government, but to preserve the liberty of the American people. MSLF is committed to ensuring that they continue to have that freedom and opportunity.

Idaho Freedom Foundation v. Independent School District Of Boise City

Why We Fight:

Local government may not violate the State constitution’s “gift clause” by keeping a teachers’ union officials on the payroll, with benefits, vacation pay and retirement provisions when they do not teach.

Summary:

Contrary to the Idaho Constitution, a local school district pays for teachers’ voluntary involvement in their union’s activities.

Legal Question:

Whether Idaho school districts should be using taxpayer dollars to subsidize union activities?

Plaintiff:

Idaho Freedom Foundation, an Idaho non-profit corporation; Rachel Gilbert

Defendant:

Independent School District of Boise City; Nancy Gregory, Maria Greeley, A. J. Balukoff, Dave Wagers, Troy Rhon, Doug Park, Brian Cronin, Don Coberly, Coby Dennis, all in their official capacities as members of the Board of Trustees of the Independent School District of Boise City; and Boise Education Association

Court:

District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, in and for Ada County
Ongoing discussion with MSLF's clients

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.

 

No Status Updates
  • Idahoans Disappointed With School District’s Union Funding Ruling

    Oct 25, 2016
    Idahoans relying on their State’s constitutional bar on the use of public funds to finance union activity today expressed disappointment with a State court’s dismissal of a suit seeking to end unconstitutional expenditures by a school district that benefit union officials.
  • Idahoans Seek to Amend School District Lawsuit for Union Activity

    Aug 11, 2016
    Idahoans relying on their State’s constitutional bar on the use of public funds to finance union activity today sought to amend their lawsuit against a school district and school and union officials seeking to end all unconstitutional expenditures.
  • Idahoans Sue School District For Funding Union Activity

    Aug 31, 2015
    Idahoans relying on their State’s constitutional bar on the use of public funds to finance union activity today sued a school district and school and union officials to end all unconstitutional expenditures.


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