Idaho Constitution

Butch Otter, Idaho Governor
Otto Kitsinger / AP Images

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is back in the hospital after undergoing two back surgeries.

Otter first underwent surgery for a ruptured disc July 7. According to his office, the governor went home the following day but was still experiencing numbness and pain in his back. After more tests, he went through a second surgery last Friday. He briefly went home Saturday but then quickly returned after developing infection symptoms.

Betsy Russell

When voters in Idaho go to the polls on November 8 they'll be asked to change the state's constitution. H.J.R. 5 comes from legislators, who want to take a power they already have and make it stronger, by enshrining it into the constitutional framework.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

This November, Idahoans will see a familiar constitutional amendment on their ballots. The measure, though, has a high-level critic in state government.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Constitutional Defense Council will meet Wednesday. The members will be asked to spend money to pay for a lost legal case. Recent court cases have drained the fund considerably this year.

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho had to dip into its bank account Monday to pay for three lawsuits the state has recently lost. The price tag is more than $800,000 dollars.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

What had been a sweeping lawsuit against Idaho over the constitutionality of its support for public schools is now much smaller.

A judge has ruled that retired educator Russell Joki and a group of parents cannot sue every school district in the state over charging fees for things like science classes or school registration.

District judge Richard Greenwood says Joki can only sue the Meridian School District where he paid his grandchildren's fees.  Joki says charging fees for classes violates Idaho’s constitutional requirement for free and uniform education.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A judge has tossed out part of a case to change education funding in Idaho. The case, known as "Joki vs. the State of Idaho," was filed last fall alleging it was unconstitutional for school districts to charge fees for classes. Wednesday’s hearing was to decide what parts of this case could move forward.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

This week we’ve been following a new lawsuit that alleges Idaho is not meeting its constitutional duty to adequately fund schools. Also this week Governor Butch Otter turned heads when he was asked if the state was living up to the constitution in that area.

“I would say probably not, but we’re doing the best job that we can,” Otter responded.

Empty Classroom
Karen Apricot New Orleans / Flickr Creative Commons

A group of parents filed a lawsuit in October over fees in Idaho schools. They say charging fees for classes like science or art violates the state constitution. But to take on the state to change the education system they needed the right lawyer. They found Robert Huntley.

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We first heard from Russel Joki two months ago when he and a group of parents filed a lawsuit against the state and its school districts.  Joki says the genesis of the suit came when he registered his grandson at Meridian High School.

“He was charged fees to take a chemistry class, to take a sports medicine class,” he recalls. “He was charged fees to enroll in art classes.”  

money
401K / Flickr Creative Commons

A former school superintendent is suing the state of Idaho on behalf of all parents who have been charged fees by their childrens’ schools. Russell Joki says charging fees violates Idaho’s constitution which requires a free, uniform school system. Joki has been a teacher and administrator in Idaho and Oregon schools and now teaches education classes for the University of Idaho. He says charging fees has become endemic in Idaho schools. He cites his own grandson as an example.