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Full story buried behind 'Data Privacy'

June 4, 2008 - Lee Smith
What exactly happened in Truman anyway? All the details may not be known, but the accusation is that the principal's son sold marijuana to another student. When the other student's mother confronted the principal and superintendent, they apparently waited several days before turning the pot over to authorities. Both later apologized for this delay, but the damage was done. The entire story is one-sided, of course, because state law forbids school administrators and school board members from discussing information regarding students. This is called Data Privacy. It could be called the Citizen Exclusion Law, because it cuts decision-makers (taxpayers) out of the loop, even though it's OK for their representatives (school board members) to learn the details. Citizens are left to hope that school board members will hold others accountable. There are no guarantees. And on the other hand, the actions of administrators are not clear, even though they may have taken some proper actions. We do know that ongoing public pressure will at least force the school board to describe what it plans to do in regard to punishing its administrators, if anything. Also, in this regard, state law is with citizens. Disciplinary measures are public information.


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