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State Board of Education rejects Branden Durst's bid for emergency certificate

After a summer filled with school board meetings, debates and paperwork the SBOE determined there is no path for Branden Durst to be superintendent at this time.

PRIEST RIVER, Idaho — The Idaho State Board of Education has rejected an application for an emergency provisional certificate from Branden Durst, the superintendent of the West Bonner School District.

This leaves the district without a superintendent. However, Durst can still work for the district.

In June, the West Bonner School Board appointed Durst as superintendent in a controversial 3-2 vote. 

As a part of his bid to serve as Superintendent in West Bonner, Durst applied to the Idaho State Board of Education for an emergency provisional certificate. That certificate, Durst hoped, would allow him to work toward meeting all requirements outlined for a Superintendent in Idaho code.  One of the requirements for Durst to get the district job, or any superintendent job in Idaho, is to have four years of full-time certificated experience working with students while under contract with an accredited school. Which, Durst doesn't have.

In a letter sent Wednesday, the State Board’s executive director said they do not have the legal authority to grant certificates to administrators like Durst, after a legal review of Idaho statutes.

"Absent Mr. Durst meeting all five requirements for a superintendent endorsement under Idaho code, there is no pathway for Mr. Durst to obtain the legally required certification to serve as the West Bonner County School District superintendent," wrote Executive Director Matt Freeman.

The Board said that upon review, Idaho law only allows them to issue emergency certificates to teachers, not administrators. While they have made exceptions three times since 2015, their legal interpretation is that those were made in error.

In response, Durst accused the Board of discrimination and political motivations on X, formerly known as Twitter. He claimed they were treating him differently than a past West Bonner administrator who received an emergency certificate.

"This leads to a simple conclusion: this was a discriminatory act by a board run by those with a political axe to grind. They will be held accountable for their discriminatory actions," Durst wrote.

Further challenges or clarification on the issue in the courts or even legislature are still possible. But for now, West Bonner must determine how to fill the superintendent role with someone who meets state certification standards.

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