Laws dictate what can be released
To the editor:
Shame on the Ledger-Transcript for its Nov. 7 editorial, “Balancing public, private information.”
There are numerous restrictions written in federal and state law regarding student privacy and employee privacy, and I would expect an award-winning newspaper to educate the public regarding these instead of pretending the laws don’t exist. They stated: “The dividing between the public’s right to know and public officials’ need to protect privacy rights needs a bridge, one that allows a closer meeting in the middle.” News Flash: The ConVal school board will not break federal or state laws to bridge that “gap.”
Regarding the resignation of the AD, it is a personnel matter and as the employer, we simply can’t comment legally or release information above what is allowed by the law without exposing our district to lawsuits. These laws are in place to protect the individual employee, who has the right to keep the information non-public or public. And, about the ConVal student who brought a firearm to school, there are federal and state privacy laws that govern how we handle student information of all types. The ConVal school board and SAU follow these laws very closely to ensure that we don’t expose ourselves to lawsuits or unnecessarily impact a person’s life permanently. There is an active police investigation that may result in more information coming to light, but there is not a body of releasible information that the board or SAU refuses to make public “because we can.”
The members of the School Board and the SAU are dedicated to an informed public and, in my short tenure, is committed to information access within the fullest extent that the law allows. There is no motive or payback for holding back releasible information that can help or inform our public. However, we will not expose the district taxpayers to the severe legal and financial consequences that can occur if we break these federal and state privacy laws. The Ledger-Transcript editors should know better than to imply that we have a choice, and to ask for a bridge that can’t be legally built.