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We Weren’t Wrong – We Just Caved

Yesterday, I wrote about the State Board of Education meeting, at which several students from around Oklahoma had waiver requests heard. These students had not met the requirements for graduation under the ACE law, affecting Oklahoma seniors for the first time this year. The meeting and appeals that happened there were a matter of routine. The posting of student academic records that occurred was inexcusable.

Late today, the SDE announced that this will not be standard operation in the future, while defending its earlier actions. Legislative Democrats and Republicans alike piled on the criticism, which is hardly new. Scott Inman said it best: “Under the direction of Superintendent Janet Barresi, we see a lack of professionalism, competence and common courtesy. I am sorely disappointed that these students, who are earnestly trying to receive their diploma, will suffer as a consequence.”

SDE spokesperson Damon Gardenhire pledged to review “how this is handled in other states.” I assume by “other states,” he means Florida. This administration has serious Florida envy.

Oklahoma open records laws are different than other states. Other states simply don’t matter. School districts and state agencies fall under the same rules for transparency. While I join others such as Oklahoma Watchdog in praising the modernization of State Board of Education meetings, I cannot help but think that their own arrogance got in the way of this being a complete success.

You just don’t share student records with the public. Ever. School districts have figured out how to hold student hearings in closed session and vote in open session without violating kids’ privacy. If the SDE had not worked so hard the last 17 months to have less contact with school district leaders, they might already have a blueprint for this.

Or they could just search Google.

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