My Turn, Your Turn: Personal records - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

6.02.09

My Turn, Your Turn: Personal records

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By Gary McNair - bio|email

WILMNGTON, NC (WECT) -  There are plenty of good reasons why personnel records should be kept confidential, but there is a case here in New Hanover County where the public clearly has the right to know some information contained in a specific employment file. 

It belongs to a troubled teacher who - after being suspended twice - resigned from her job in December.  She found another teaching job in Pitt County and last month that same teacher was arrested here in Wilmington after being caught in a compromising position with a teenager.

In this case, with access to the personnel record we could learn the basis of the suspensions.  We would know if there was a link between them and the criminal charges, and it would be clear if the school district was less than forthcoming with information that should have taken this teacher out of the classroom permanently.  

New Hanover County Schools is refusing all requests - including one from our newsroom - to make those files public.  They say they are protecting their former employee.  I just hope they are not trying to protect themselves.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at yourturn@wect.com.

Viewers' emailed responses:

I would imagine they are trying to protect themselves, maybe from something that happened at their school?  Why else would they not want to release the records?  They should be more than willing to help get a pedofile out our school system and off the street.  

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Viewed your comments tonight reference the recently arrested teacher with an underage male student and her past resignations, questionable past .  I ,for one ,agree with you 100% !  Perhaps knowing her past actions, why she left previous employment positions might have prevented this one occurrence of illegal behavior.  I not only feel sorry for the boy but for her also !  This has ruined her life ;  hopefully she can rebound and live a truly meaningful life.  I doubt the male youth involved will have as hard a time recovering.

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You're apparently as anxious to rush to judgment as the editors at the StarNews.  A former teacher has been charged with a crime and will be appropriately judged in a court of law.  It's a huge violation of trust for the school system to reveal to the newspaper or TV stations  the content of her personnel file before that happens.  If the school district did indeed whitewash her record and give her a dishonest recomendation, there will be plenty of time in the future to take them to task without unnecessarily prejudicing the teacher's case.

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The decision to divulge the contents of a teacher's file resulting in a suspension:  from experience in the public education in another state, I would assume that the legalities of "sunshining" the contents of a teacher's file depends totally on the wording of the teachers' contract.  It may be that the contract does not allow the district/board to do this.  The real crime here is that a letter of recommendation was written regarding  this particular teacher - that is just plain unprofesssional and fails to put the rights of children FIRST.

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Would it be handled differently if it were the male adult and a minor female?

I agree that we especially parents should know what's in the Teacher's Personnel Folder that deals with an enticement, an inappropriate activity by Her toward the student/corruption of a minor, statutory rape , whatever you choose to call it during the time she was teaching at the Williston Middle School after it was discovered,and brought to the attention of the supervising and administrative personnel of NHCS.

HOWEVER, Was NHCS aware of her ACTIONS/with a minor upon her resignation?

We've heard that NHCS had spoken to the teacher twice, before the finale, then, how could she/teacher have received a GOOD

transfereable Recommendation without  her ACTIONS being among the mix?

The facts as I hear them, the teacher left Williston Middle school, resignation (out of my backyard, was that the solution?) began teaching in Pitt County.

This is where I become mostly concerned for the childern in Pitt County and whereever the teacher could've possibly ended up teaching. Should the Pitt County Community Schools have not been given some beforehand  knowledge of her ACTIONS  from NHCS or were they?

I guess what  I'm asking is did NHCS tell of the teacher's inappropriate behavior with a minor in her folder? 5/6-- continue A board member stated that the teacher was given two suspension w/pay for inappropriate behavior in the classroom/being in the company of the minor at a game I think did those letters to the HR office of her new schools?  Did he say that? If they didn't,  why not ?

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