Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bellevue John Doe v. Bellevue School District

Toby Nixon, president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, made the following statement today in response to the publication of the Washington State Supreme Court's opinion in the case of Bellevue John Does 1-11 v. Bellevue School District:

"This is yet another example of exemptions to public records disclosure being created by the courts rather than by the legislature. School districts often hide evidence of patterns of misbehavior by teachers, coaches, and staff to avoid lawsuits. It's one thing to expunge allegations shown to be false from a teacher's record, but we know from sad experience that where there's smoke there's usually fire -- and now parents will have a harder time becoming aware of continuing patterns of accusations.

"The court majority expects the public to simply trust that school districts are conducting adequate investigations, but the people reserved to ourselves the right to verify, not simply trust, what the government is doing. As it says in RCW 42.56.030, 'The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.' The court today continued the decades-long erosion of that principle."

The Washington Coalition for Open Government is a statewide non- partisan, non profit group of individuals and organizations dedicated to strengthening and preserving the public's right to know what its government is doing. For more information, contact the Washington Coalition for Open Government, 6351 Seaview Av NW, Seattle, WA 98107-2664, phone 206.782.0393 or by email at

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