Judges rule against letting public see LAUSD teachers’ performance

Jul 24, 2014 by

The public has no right to know the names of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers in connection with their job performance ratings, according to a court ruling issued Wednesday.

Two local elementary schools became the first to roll out tablet computers in a $1-billion effort to put iPads in the hands of every student in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

In denying a request for disclosure by The Times, a three-judge state appellate court panel found that keeping the names confidential served a stronger public interest than releasing them. The panel overturned a lower court ruling ordering disclosure and rejected The Times’ assertion that the public interest of parents and others in knowing the ratings of identifiable teachers outweighed the interest in confidentiality.

Instead, the panel accepted L.A. school Supt. John Deasy’s contention that releasing the names would lead to resentment and jealousy among teachers, spur “unhealthy” comparisons among staff, cause some instructors to leave the nation’s second-largest school system, and interfere with teacher recruitment.

The judges said the specter of parents battling to place their children with the highest-performing teachers was of “particular concern.”

“Clearly, the public has an interest in avoiding these consequences in its schools,” said the opinion, written by Judge Russell S. Kussman.

But Kelli Sager, an attorney representing The Times, said the district presented no evidence that such harm would occur. The state Supreme Court recently ruled in another case that the California Public Records Act required a showing of specific harm to justify keeping public records secret, she said.

“Instead, the panel accepted L.A. school Supt. John Deasy’s contention that releasing the names would lead to resentment and jealousy among teachers, spur “unhealthy” comparisons among staff, cause some instructors to leave the nation’s second-largest school system, and…

“You can’t simply speculate on harm,” she said. “You have to have specific evidence of specific harm in a specific case.”

Deasy, when asked for evidence documenting harm to teachers, did not produce any; instead he said in an interview Wednesday that “it’s [his] belief” that would occur.

He said the public could monitor how the district is evaluating teachers though data released annually on tenures granted, teachers dismissed and other markers.

via Judges rule against letting public see LAUSD teachers’ performance – LA Times.

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