Why On Earth Would We Make Performance Reviews of Principals Secret?

A bad idea percolates in Arizona..

Advocates for government transparency are objecting to language in an education bill that would prevent the public from reviewing school principals’ performance appraisals.

At present, whether the public has access to those performance appraisals depends largely on the policies of individual school districts.

But HB 2823, authored by Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman, would specifically exempt principals’ evaluations from public disclosure. The language is part of a larger bill addressing teacher and principal performance appraisals and incentives.

“The public has a great interest in how our schools are doing,” said David Cuillier, interim director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism and chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Freedom of Information Committee.

“Every group out there thinks their group is special and deserves an exemption,” said Dan Barr, a Phoenix attorney who represents media organizations. “To shield from public view the performance reviews of public school principals doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Based on concerns raised about principals’ evaluations, Goodale said she will review that language with attorneys to make sure the bill doesn’t overstep current law. She didn’t respond directly to questions about the intent of the language other than to say the goal wasn’t interfering with the public’s right to know.