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McCall meet-and-greet causes confusion about newly picked D91 superintendent

Education

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Eric Pingrey | Idaho Falls School District 91

IDAHO FALLS — There was some confusion in Idaho Falls School District 91 Wednesday after its apparent incoming superintendent was seen at a hiring event in McCall.

On Tuesday, the district announced Eric Pingrey, the superintendent at Walker Hackensack Akeley School District in Walker, Minnesota, would be the D91’s new leader in the 2021-2022 school year. Superintendent George Boland is retiring at the end of the school year.

But on Wednesday night, Pingrey showed up at a meet-and-greet for superintendent finalists in McCall-Donnelly School District 421 in western Idaho. Pingrey, and Dr. Patrick Charlton, the current superintendent of the Vallivue School District, attended the meeting as the two finalists in District 421’s superintendent search.

As a result, a number of confused people contacted EastIdahoNews.com Wednesday night and wondered if Pingrey really is coming to District 91.

District 91 spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne says although Pingrey was a finalist candidate in both districts, Pingrey has officially accepted the Idaho Falls position. Wimborne says the District 421 meet-and-greet event had been scheduled prior to the District 91 board making him an offer.

“The board didn’t make their selection until Tuesday and (Pingrey) was in McCall already, which had been previously scheduled,” Wimborne says. “We contracted with the Idaho School Board Association to conduct our search (for a new superintendent). They still have to finalize a contract and they’re in the process of doing that right now.”

RELATED | Idaho Falls District 91 selects new superintendent

ISBA Executive Director Karen Echeverria explains there were two different people handling superintendent searches for both school districts.

“When we realized that we had a candidate that had applied for both of these jobs, we made a decision that … we could keep them separate and (not reveal) information to one board or the other,” Echeverria says.

Wimborne says the District 91 board became aware Pingrey was a finalist in McCall, and due to the extremely competitive nature of Idaho’s superintendent searches (there are at least a dozen statewide), the board made the quick decision following Monday’s meet and greet in Idaho Falls.

“We wanted to make sure that offer was out there and notify him that he was the candidate the board had selected,” Wimborne says.

It’s not clear whether Pingrey was offered a job in McCall, and EastIdahoNews.com was unable to reach Pingrey for comment Thursday.

Residents question Pingrey’s educational qualifications

Besides questions about the hiring process, locals had questions about Pingrey’s educational qualifications. Fliers for the recent meet-and-greets in both Idaho Falls and in McCall refer to the candidate as “Dr. Eric Pingrey.” The problem is, Pingrey doesn’t have a doctorate degree.

The issue stemmed from erroneous biographical information provided to the districts by the ISBA. The documentation indicated Pingrey had a doctoral degree in education administration, sometimes referred to as an “Ed.D”

Pingrey’s bio as presented on District 91’s flier for the meet-and-greet. | Courtesy Idaho Falls School District 91

In actuality, according to the ISBA, and Pingrey’s Linkedin Page, he has an Ed.S or education specialist degree, which is an advanced practitioner course that goes beyond a master’s degree. It is designed for educators who are not interested in a doctorate program but are seeking to continue their studies.

Echeverria says communicating this distinction on Pingrey’s resume was an error on her part.

“He never said that he had a doctorate. I looked at some documents. I wrote ‘Dr. Pingree’ on some documents with the board when they were first reviewing the application. Later, I tried to correct it. That is totally my fault,” Echeverria says.

EastIdahoNews.com was also contacted earlier this week by District 91 to ensure the media referred to him as “Mister” rather than “Doctor,” because of the distinction.

Besides the Ed.S, Pingrey has earned bachelor’s degrees in history, social science and secondary education. His master’s degree is in education administration with a secondary principal administrative certificate.

Prior to his work in Walker, Minnesota, Pingrey worked as a principal for the Converse County School District in Douglas, Wyoming, and was a principal for the Custer School District in Custer, South Dakota.

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