Editorial: If a school district doesn’t comment or share details does it mean there is a cover-up?

IMG_6958[1]Throughout the school year there may be a variety of issue or events which occur within a school for which specific details cannot be shared. For the most part schools cannot comment on disciplinary actions against students or teachers. Just like in the private sector, if an employee is put on plan or asked to manage their work load in a different way, this is not announced to the community at large, to coworkers or customers but in fact kept private. If a student is disciplined, just like if an employee in the private sector is disciplined, the school district typically cannot comment on the specifics.

My opinion is if a school is giving a blanket or general statement about an incident/issue and leaving out the details it’s likely because that is all they can legally say. Why would a school district want to make it appear as if they were covering something up?

I found this online last night and thought I would share, I couldn’t find anything for MURSD – to be honest I didn’t look very hard. This is Carver’s community notification policy.

Community Notification – Throughout the school year a variety of incidents of concern occur at all public and private high schools. At Carver Middle High School – Grades 9 – 12, the administration has two responsibilities with regard to sharing information with the school community and the community of Carver. First, the administration has the responsibility to protect the confidentiality of those students and teachers involved in any incident. Second, the administration also has the responsibility to assure the community, parents and students that they will be notified of any incident that occurred at Carver Middle High School that has affected or may affect the well-being and security of the greater school community. Each of these responsibilities will be taken under serious consideration before information is disseminated.

All schools must have similar policies and I would guess these types of policies are set by the districts attorneys. A school is legally obligated to protect the confidentiality of both students and teachers and only when the well-being and security of the school is at risk can they share specific details.

I would think this policy not only applies to major events but to minor ones as well. A district would not be able to share that a teacher has been spoken to about managing their time better in the classroom, about focusing more on academics, or about any specific personnel issue. A district can also not share the specifics on how a student was disciplined or the specifics of any incidents involving multiple students. Instead of hearing the specifics of the incident the public may be informed a breach of the policies outlined in the student handbook was made and “the incident has been handled in accordance with the student handbook.”

So the next time you may feel the district is covering up an issue it may be that they simply cannot comment because they are protecting a confidence which they are legally required to do.

Just my two cents!

 

About Jennifer Doyle

Comments

  1. It is always difficult to move on in trust when trust has been violated. However, I do feel that it’s in everyone’s best interests to begin to rebuild that trust and work together to improve our future work together – community and schools. Our new SC and super appear willing to do that, and we should be, too. Just my 2 cents – thank you for sharing JD 🙂

  2. Just Stop says:

    Some folks look everywhere for conspiracy theories and, not surprisingly, find them…

    • unfortunately, there are just as many people who look the other way, and not surprisingly, see nothing. slinging mud anonymously is counter-productive.

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