A legislative committee has put state education officials on notice that they’re not happy with proposed rules which would yank controversial reports about teachers from a public website. Representative Danny Carroll, a Republican from Grinnell, says the Board of Educational Examiners wants to give teachers the ability to pull letters of reprimand from the board’s website after the letters have been posted for five years. Carroll says there are serious issues in those letters of reprimand. “As I got to looking through the list of reasons, a lot of those were physical abuse, inappropriate touching, sexual abuse,” Carroll says. Just over a hundred letters of reprimand are posted on the website today and half were issued for the kinds of violations Carroll just described. Carroll says it’s wrong to make it harder for the public to easily access those letters, which will remain a public record even if the board follows through and yanks them from the public website. Iowans who want to check on teachers to see if there are any letters of reprimand from the state’s professional licensing board would have to visit or call the board’s office in Des Moines and request those records if the proposed rule went into effect. “I just thought to myself if some (legislator) offered a piece of legislation or a bill to do that, you’d be skewered, but here they’re doing it in a rule,” Carroll says. “I thought it was unwise.” Staff at the Board of Educational Examiners have not responded to Radio Iowa’s request for an interview. The Iowa Association of School Boards is against making it more difficult to review the letters of reprimand the state board issues to teachers. In a memo, the association says “protecting the children of Iowa is of upmost importance to all of us” and the proposed change “would eliminate a layer of available public information” that school administrators use when deciding whether to hire a teacher.
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