Robin Gilbert

Robin Gilbert in her office in Sept. of 2017.

PAYETTE — People of Payette School District won’t have to learn a new name for the superintendent, as Robin Gilbert has been hired for the leadership role.

Gilbert retired from her position as superintendent of Payette School District during the Aug. 12 meeting. Her last day with the school was on Aug. 30. She will be back in the office this week, Payette School Board Chairman Adam Rynearson said.

During a special meeting on Monday morning, the Payette School Board voted unanimously to offer the job of superintendent to Gilbert.

The hire was originally made during a special meeting on the afternoon of Sept. 13. During that meeting, the Payette School Board offered the job to “Candidate A,” who was Gilbert. However, Idaho Open Meeting Law stipulates that the name of someone being hired must be made public at the time of their hiring.

The Payette School Board then needed to re-do the hiring on Monday morning.

According to Payette School District Clerk Barbara Choate, the school district is able to hire Gilbert following her retirement thanks to Idaho Statute 33-1004H, which allows schools to “employ school resource officers, certificated schoolteachers, and administrators who are receiving retirement benefits from the public employee retirement system of Idaho, except those who received benefits under the early retirement program previously provided by the state in positions requiring such certification, as at-will employees.”

Idaho Statute 33-1004H was added in 2007 as part of House Bill 202. It overrules Idaho Code 59-1356, which makes it so recent retirees can’t be hired by the same employer within 90 days.

Following Monday’s meeting, Rynearson sent out a message to employees of Payette School District, some of which voiced concern over the departure and hire of Gilbert.

“Retirement of an employee is personal by nature, each employee retires for their own reasons. Mrs. Gilbert meets the required age and years of service in the Idaho public school system. As such she is entitled to full retirement benefits through PERSI (Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho),” the message reads. “Due to personal reasons she elected to officially retire and begin drawing on those benefits. She was then eligible to apply for the open superintendent position. This is completely permited by PERSI rules. (Idaho statute 59-1356(4)) There was no guarantee of rehire. There was no collaboration with the school board. This incurs no additional cost to the school district. The school board accepted applications and considered all appropriately certified persons in search of the best candidate.”

There were eight applicants for the superintendent position, which was posted on the Payette School District’s website on Sept. 5 and was taken down on Sept. 12 at noon.

“All eight applicants had their credentials reviewed and considered,” Payette School Board member Candita Strong said during Friday’s meeting. The vote for Gilbert was unanimous.

The Payette School Board’s next meeting will be on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. where they will go over the 2019-2020 Strategic Plan and the board’s goals.

Nik Streng is the sports reporter for the Argus Observer. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015 with a master's degree in journalism, after graduating from Pacific University in 2013 with a degree in creative writing.

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