Education Committee Endorses Bill To Improve Information Sharing When Educators Are Investigated

Sep 6, 2018

Despite privacy concerns from school officials, the legislature's education committee endorsed a bill Thursday that would mandate that Maine schools quickly report investigations of the conduct of credentialed school staff to the state.

The bill would require that schools notify the Maine Department of Education (DOE) when they begin investigating staff in cases involving issues such as substance abuse, emotional abuse or texting inappropriately with students.

At a hearing in front of the legislature's education committee, the DOE's Angel Loredo said that the policy would allow the state to intervene faster and potentially alert other districts to problem employees.

"We would get that information," Loredo said. "Because a lot of times, we don't get that information when we want to get it. And this would allow us time to communicate back and forth."

But Maine Education Association president Grace Leavitt said the bill raises privacy concerns, and it could potentially hurt teachers who were accused but later cleared of any allegations.

"Yes, we need to keep our students safe. I completely agree," she said. "But we also need to protect the due process rights of individuals. And not create another process that would erode these rights.”

Ultimately, the committee backed an amended version of the bill. It will likely head to the full legislature next week.

For disclosure, the Maine Education Association represents most of Maine Public's news staff.