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Attempt dropped to exempt principal evals from public records

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Attempt dropped to exempt principal evals from public records

State lawmaker removes language from bill, says it was mistake

  • State Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman,
    Bastien Inzaurralde/Cronkite News ServiceState Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman,

PHOENIX — A state lawmaker has dropped language from an education bill that would exclude school principals’ performance appraisals from the state public records law.

Rep. Doris Goodale, chairwoman of the House Education Committee, said she included that provision by mistake.

“This was a massive rewrite,” she told Cronkite News Service. “It was an inadvertent change when we were working on the bill.”

Goodale said she amended HB 2823, which deals with hiring, assessing and rewarding teachers and principals, after freedom of information advocates raised concerns. The amended bill cleared the House and was awaiting action in the Senate.

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

The Goldwater Institute, an independent watchdog group that promotes limited government and free enterprise, told Goodale that reviewing evaluations is particularly important for parents, said Starlee Rhoades, the organization’s executive vice president of communications.

“Why would we go backwards in transparency?” she said in an interview.

David Cullier, interim director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism and chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Freedom of Information Committee, said he’s pleased that lawmakers recognized the importance of public access in holding officials accountable.

“That’s how our government should be,” he said.

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