For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: October 23, 2003

State Reaches School Safety Agreement with Midvale School District

(Boise) - The State of Idaho has reached a settlement with the Midvale School District, resolving issues related to school building safety. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden approved the settlement today and said his office has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the district on September 16, 2003.

Under terms of the settlement, the Midvale School District has agreed to take the following actions by September 30, 2004:

  • Anchor the roof trusses to the masonry walls and horizontal bracing of the Midvale Junior-Senior High School and Midvale Elementary School,
  • Repair deteriorating or missing mortar joints in exterior walls,
  • Repair the floor in the administration area by replacing subflooring or, if inspection reveals that the joists cannot bear the load, develop an abatement plan by October 31, 2004.

The state agreed to dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice. When the agreed-upon repairs are completed, the dismissal will become final.

"The students in the Midvale School District are the winners in this settlement," Attorney General Wasden said. "They will be attending safer schools next fall because the administration and the school board stepped up and did what is right for the students."

During negotiations with the Midvale School District, the State agreed to pay for an engineer to inspect the buildings. The repairs, recommended by the engineer, will be made by current Midvale School District employees and will require minimal expenditures for materials. The repairs will improve the strength of the building(s) in the event of an earthquake.

The conditions in the Midvale School District are not considered to be "imminent safety hazards" under the Uniform Public School Building Safety Act, I.C. ยงยง 39-8001 to 39-8012, and the Idaho Division of Building Safety's Rules Governing Uniform School Building Safety, IDAPA 07.06.01. They are, however, considered to be "serious safety hazards." Idaho law requires "serious safety hazards" to be eliminated within one year.

In accordance with a law passed by the legislature in 2003, and in compliance with an order of the Idaho Supreme Court, the Attorney General filed lawsuits to eliminate unsafe conditions in seven school districts, including Midvale.

"Both before and after filing the lawsuits, my office invited the districts to work with us toward negotiated settlements," Attorney General Wasden said. "Unfortunately, only Midvale took us up on the offer. I hope the other districts will reconsider. We've demonstrated in Midvale that negotiation can resolve these issues to the benefit of students and taxpayers."

The cases involving Cottonwood Joint School District No. 242, St. Maries Joint School District No. 41, Lake Pend Oreille School District No. 84, Whitepine Joint School District No. 288, Lapwai School District No. 341, and Challis Joint School District No. 181 are still pending. So far, none of the remaining districts have notified the Attorney General that the conditions have been repaired or that the district has a plan to repair the unsafe conditions.

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