If your child's teacher was previously disciplined for inappropriate behavior, you would insist, as a parent, that you had the right to this information. The Ohio Department of Education, however, might disagree. The Columbus Dispatch is running a series of exposés showing that the department has sealed from public disclosure 80 cases of educators who were disciplined. At least 48 of those cases involve a child, and ten of the teachers involved are still eligible to run classrooms. Yes, there's a partial explanation for the secrecy: the investigations stemmed from tips from child protection agencies. We understand the need to protect the identity of people who are under investigation and there are, alas, altogether too many of these. (Since 2000, the department has reviewed and cleared over 15,000 allegations of misconduct.) Innocent until proven guilty. But what about situations where the investigation yields damning evidence? Potentially predatory teachers are being recycled throughout Ohio's school system, with parents and principals none the wiser. The agency needs to establish a centralized database, through which the backgrounds of teachers and school administrators are made accessible to the public. If pedophiles are lurking in Ohio's classrooms, even just ten of them, they need to be identifiable--or, better, weeded out.
"Secrecy shrouds disciplined teachers," by Jill Riepenhoff and Jennifer Smith Richards, Columbus Dispatch, Oct. 16, 2007