Superintendent Andrew Melin said along with the “consternation” caused by the additions, there are also privacy concerns associated with making the reports publicly available prior to meetings.
“It’s something that throughout the year has caused potential issues because we care about our staff members, and we want to make sure that we’re honoring and protecting their privacy to the greatest extent that we can,” Melin said. “I know our community feels different ways about this, but I thought it’s time for us to look hard at what we’re doing with these personnel reports.”
He also said there was the possibility that the district could open itself to legal action for posting that information.
But David Emmert, legal counsel for the Indiana School Board Association, said he wasn’t aware of any violations in state law by posting the reports before a meeting.
“They are not confidential items,” Emmert said. “The fact that maybe you have a dismissal or a separation [from the district], there really is no privacy issue that I know of. I don’t see there’s any guarantee of confidentiality in the law. I think that what they were doing did not violate anyone’s privacy rights.”
Lewis said excluding personnel reports from BoardDocs would also provide a courtesy to job applicants in the event an applicant hasn’t told their current employer about looking for another job and their position isn’t approved by the board.
In an email, Lewis said neither the board nor the district are bound by official policy to make the personnel reports visible to the public before they’re voted upon, therefore bypassing the requirement of a majority vote from the board to change the practice.
“...Board Policy 9300 sets out the format to be used for agendas but does not state what has to be made public prior to board meetings,” Lewis said in an email. “It is protocol not policy that has created the transparency on [Greater Clark] school board actions. No vote is needed to change the protocol for not publishing the personnel report in advance of its approval.”
The policy says the superintendent must prepare an agenda to post on BoardDocs, but it does not say the supporting information must be available to the public.