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Friday, June 22, 2007

Identities of Teachers Accused of Sexual Misconduct--Thanks to Public Records

More news you wouldn't have known without access to public records: "Three Hoquiam teachers have been accused of misconduct in the past 13 months."

While the story doesn't say so, I suspect that the newspaper did what newspapers often do: heard a tip and then verified it with public records. Newspapers don't just print rumors, despite what their detractors think. Public records are routinely used to verify the facts--and that's a good thing. No verification via public records and no story. That's a bad thing, especially if you have students in a public school and had no idea one of your child's teachers was accused of sexual misconduct.

By the way, the Seattle-area teachers unions actually argued in the state Supreme Court a few months ago that obtaining public records showing the identities of teachers accused of sexual misconduct with students was "not in the public interest." Think about it.