K12: Talk of hiring Idaho’s Luna ‘just ridiculous speculation’

Sen. Branden Durst’s claim that Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna is scheming to get a job with the nation’s largest provider of online primary and secondary education prompted push back from the company Wednesday.

“I read that a state senator recently claimed that K12 is planning to hire Mr. Luna,” said Jeff Kwitowski, K12′s senior vice president for corporate communications, in an email early this afternoon. “For the record, that is not true and any suggestion otherwise is just ridiculous speculation.”

On Tuesday, Durst alleged that Luna fibbed on Monday when he told the Statesman that he will run for a third term in 2014. In a guest opinion, Durst said that Luna has already told top staff he won’t seek re-election and wrote that Luna will “likely be hired” by either K12 or Education Networks of America. ENA is the Tennessee-based firm that won a controversial long-term contract to provide wireless services in Idaho schools. Luna signed the contract last week, over the objections of some lawmakers.

K12 Inc., a Virginia-based online company that operates the publicly-funded Idaho Virtual Academy, has supported Luna’s campaigns. In 2010, K12, its employees and major stockholders spent about $44,000 supporting Luna’s re-election.

In 2011, Luna told me he convinced K12 to sponsor Butch Otter’s Governor’s Cup Scholarship tournament. Luna said of CEO and founder Ron Packard: “I know Ron well. He comes to the Governor’s Cup and we play golf. Sometimes he comes to Idaho and maybe we’ll go to dinner.”






Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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