Philip Neuhoff, who started a Facebook page posting public documents surrounding West Ada School District as controversy engulfed the district shortly after the May trustee election, was named trustee Tuesday to fill the seat left vacant when Julie Madsen resigned last month.
The vote was three to one.
Trustee Mike Vuittonet, who is working in support of the recall of three fellow trustees, opposed the selection.
Neuhoff, a retired educator, was chosen from among five candidates who were publicly interviewed by the board for nearly three hours before trustees made their decision.
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Neuhoff, the Eagle father of two West Ada students, told trustees that he sought the job to help make sure students got the best possible education. He said the priority in West Ada School District must be to keep classrooms vibrant and get the teachers the resources they need. “Make sure the base is strong,” he said . “I want the discussion back to our kids and not all this other stuff we have been talking about.”
Trustee Russell Joki nominated Neuhoff, saying “he is a parent and I think that it is essential that parents have a voice on this board.”
When Trustee Carol Sayles asked if any of the five had been involved in the recall of trustees, Neuhoff said, “No. I very vocally opposed the recall against all four.”
“Recall is not good policy,” he told the Statesman after his selection.
Four trustees were facing recall, but Madsen resigned. The remaining three are Board Chairwoman Tina Dean, Russell Joki and Sayles.
Neuhoff also told the Statesman he began the Facebook page – called West Ada Files – as a way to get information out to help people figure out what was happening in the district.
Before making their selection, board members all agreed to support the new trustee. Vuittonet said he could work with Neuhoff, but minutes after the meeting, he said the “fix was in” on Neuhoff’s selection.
“That’s why we are having a recall,” Vuittonet added.
Dean said she did her “honest best” to keep outside influences away from the board’s decision. She even offered candidates the option of bringing in their applications on Tuesday night as as the meeting began. Neuhoff was the only applicant to take advantage of the offer.
Neuhoff said Madsen and people on both sides of the recall issue encouraged him to apply for the position.
Neuhoff will complete Madsen term, which ends in 2019. He will be seated at the next board meeting, which is scheduled for March.