Keyes School Board decides to alter school policy on top senior grads

by C.F. David

In a decision that had been discussed in Executive Session before being voted on in Open Session, Monday night, Feb. 14, the Keyes School Board made the decision to “...amend the honors policy due to extenuating circumstances.”

The vote passed four to one, with Debra Cobb, Bron Gardner, J.C. Moser and President Tom Grazier voting yes; Board Clerk Ray Eslinger cast the lone no vote.

According to board minutes faxed to The Boise City News and not yet authorized by the board, Brent and Joyce Baslenseifen, the parents of one honor student, had approached the board with concerns about the announcement of the High School Valedictorian and Salutatorian.

Under new business, Eslinger made the motion to discuss the criteria for Valedictorian and Salutatorian; the board voted five-0 for the discussion. Eslinger then made a motion to take the discussion into Executive Session. Again the board voted five-0 and went behind closed doors.

Contacted by phone, Eslinger explained his no vote, “They were wanting to amend the policy so they could have two Valedictorians. I didn't think it was right.”

Asked if the two young people had identical G.P.A.s, Eslinger said, “They were pretty close, but not exact.

According to the Balenseifens, (also contacted by phone) their complaints about the issue swirled around what they thought was improper student notification.

“Mr. Turlington, (Ed Turlington, Keyes Superintendent) made the pronouncement unprofessionally,” said Brent.

“The Superintendent is supposed to take the names of the Valedictorian and Salutatorian to the board before he notifies the student(s),” Joyce added.

The Balenseifens make the claim that Turlington made the announcement to another student, Nicole Fry, and told her she would share the honor with the Balenseifen's son Jared, a National Merit Scholar.

Turlington confirmed to The Boise City News that two students would share the top spot when the Keyes Seniors cross the stage later this spring. (No names were mentioned, but Fry's mother confirmed by phone that she was the other Valedictorian.)

But there will be only one Salutatorian.

“We have two very bright students. Their G.P.A's are so fact most of the others in that class are really close. I think the whole class will attend college somewhere,” Turlington said. “We'll probably give out more scholarships this year, than have ever been awarded at Keyes.”


“Most of the board agreed.” (To have dual Valedictorians.)

It wasn't a big issue, but some parents thought it was. When two kids have 4.0 averages, and they've taken every heavy course they can take...sometimes, a policy needs to be redefined,” Turlington said.

When asked if both students, were in a “Dead heat” on grade averages, he replied, “Yes...well, I guess you could probably take it out to something like .0001. But they are both very bright young people. One is a National Merit fact, they both are.” (Fry's mother wasn't sure.)

“If we could have had five it would have been great to have five, [Valedictorians]” Turlington said.

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