Wake should open files on new hires

The Wake County school board hasn’t made many missteps lately, but now it has stumbled. It has reduced the amount of information available to the public on new hires such as principals, assistant principals, area superintendents and assistant superintendents. The board, through its attorney, claims it’s following state personnel law.

Instead, it appears the board is trying to release as little information as possible. That’s wrong, and it’s bad policy for the public.

What’s the value in the way things were done, which included the release of detailed work histories and the educational backgrounds of administrators? The public has an opportunity to know as much as possible about the people who are charged with overseeing the schools of their children. And parents could, if they wished, talk to people they knew in districts from whence the new Wake hires came, to assess those new personnel.

That’s not an invasion of privacy. It’s something parents or any other members of the public should have a right to do regarding people who are their employees paid with their money. And yes, on occasion, further “investigation” into the backgrounds of new principals or assistant principals, for example, might turn up information that a superintendent might find valuable. (If there had been a performance problem, for example.)

It is simply bad public policy to keep secret information that is of no harm to anyone and more importantly is information the public has a right to know. Those who are hired have nothing to fear from a more open policy, which was working just fine, by the way.

This is a foolish policy change and one that should be reversed by the school board immediately. As we said, members of the board haven’t goofed much. But this time, they’re following legal advice in the wrong direction.