Thursday, May 29, 2008

EDITORIAL: Is a misdemeanor or felony a "Personnel matter?"

The School District of Lancaster declines to discuss what they describe as "possible PSSA testing protocol violations" on the basis "The results of any investigations are a personnel matter and cannot be shared with the public."

"Personnel matter" as we understand the term relates to the performance of employees in accordance with the policies and guidelines of their employers. But purposefully providing government officials with incorrect information is either a misdemeanor or a felony offense against the State law.*

If indeed the law has been broken and administrators and / or faculty members at Wickersham Elementary School are under suspicion, is this any more a "personnel matter" to be concealed from the public eye than if there was a likelihood that thousands of dollars had been stolen?

We believe that suspicion of breaking of laws on the part of school personnel should not be exempted from disclosure based on it being a "personnel" matter. This isn't an issue of incompetence or infraction of school regulations. This is a matter of crime against the state!

And if there is reason to believe that a misdemeanor or felony may have been committed, those suspected should be suspended, perhaps with pay, pending their exoneration or dismissal.

Stealing money would be a property crime. But falsifying scores to misrepresent achievement levels of students is to deprive youngsters of the education they deserve!

*State Statute:

§ 4911. Tampering with public records or information.
(a) Offense defined.--A person commits an offense if he:
1. knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, any record, document or thing belonging to, or received or kept by, the government for information or record, or required by law to be kept by others for information of the government;
2. makes, presents or uses any record, document or thing knowing it to be false, and with intent that it be taken as a genuine part of information or records referred to in paragraph (1) of this subsection; or
3. intentionally and unlawfully destroys, conceals, removes or otherwise impairs the verity or availability of any such record, document or thing.
(b) Grading.--An offense under this section is a misdemeanor of the second degree unless the intent of the actor is to defraud or injure anyone, in which case the offense is a felony of the third degree.