Witness protection

Iowa is also dealing with confidentiality issues--for the accusers of teachers. For the last nine years, the state attorney general’s office has been violating a law that protects investigatory documents by sharing filed complaints (for fraud, sexual misconduct, gross incompetence, and abuse) with teachers, including the identity of the complainant. Now, state officials have decided to stop sharing these files during the investigatory phase--and teachers are crying foul. They see this as a violation of “due process,” claiming they have the right to face their critics. Ironically, the teachers union was a huge supporter of, and helped push through, the now-violated legislation, which they hoped would keep unsubstantiated accusations under the radar. Sometimes facing your accuser, however, can get out of hand. A sexual-assault counselor reported being harassed and having her car broken into when she blew the whistle on a local teacher. (The state admits that the teacher in this case is being investigated.) Shame on the state department of education for playing fast and loose with this rule for so long--and the AG’s office for letting it happen. If an accusation is unsubstantiated, no one gets hurt by not knowing the identity of the complainant, and parents and community members won’t hold their tongue for fear of retribution.

Education examiners weigh anonymity for teachers' accusers,” by Staci Hupp, Des Moines Register, November 6, 2009

"Board agrees to anonymity for teachers' accusers," by Staci Hupp, Des Moines Register blog, November 6, 2009

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