Education officials post records of all students with appeals online

Posted: June 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm

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Read emails state Board of Education members sent to education officials and Superintendent Janet Barresis response.

Parents and guardians of several affected students were shocked to learn of the disclosure of documents they thought were only for the eyes of the state Board of Education.

"No, I was not aware of that!" said Ebenezer Duko, father of Broken Arrow High School senior Dallas Dickens-Duko, whose appeal was denied. "I thought everything had to be confidential. I am very concerned and very disappointed. ... I didn't know there was a waiver in the appeal."

Under the Oklahoma Achieving Classroom Excellence Act, which applies to the class of 2012 and beyond, students must pass at least four of seven subject matter tests in order to earn a high school diploma.

Amid outcry from lawmakers and concerns from state board members, state officials took down the names of the 25 students on Friday and redacted their personal information before reposting their ACE appeal applications on the Internet.

The spokesman for State Superintendent Janet Barresi initially defended the action, but later told the Tulsa World that personal information would be redacted because of state board members' concerns.

"There were conversations. They understand the department was striking a difficult balance between being transparent and dealing with student information. Going forward, we are going to take a look at what other states are doing and whether we could have a system that could assign a case number to students seeking appeals," said Damon Gardenhire.

Through a request under the Oklahoma Open Records Act, the Tulsa World obtained copies of state board members' emails. Gardenhire also included Barresi's response, which was sent to the entire board.

Joy Hoffmeister, a state board member from Tulsa, wrote to Barresi that she was disheartened.

"Based on my recollection, the Board had recently been advised that documents distributed during Executive Session are not subject to the same disclosures as those items distributed outside of Executive Session. I am not an expert in the Open Meeting Act or the Open Records Act, but why were these students' records and privacy not shielded in this same way?" she wrote. "I would suggest that in the future, anyone who exercises their right to an appeal should be given greater care to protect their privacy. When a situation of competing rights exist, I believe it is incumbent upon us, as a public board and government agency, to exercise the highest level of care and protection in favor of children and young students."

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Education officials post records of all students with appeals online

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June 9th, 2012 at 5:17 pm

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