You often read or hear that sentence when the school district is approached by a media outlet regarding an event involving a staff member. No doubt, that response is frustrating when you and others want and need more information in order to understand the whole story.
We understand. When we don’t elaborate on a personnel matter, it can lead community members to potentially speculate on the reasons why or can fuel a belief that important information is being hidden. At times, it would seem easier to release all the facts of an employee-related situation. While transparency is important in how the district communicates with its many stakeholders, there are at least three reasons why more information cannot and should not be shared.
1) The district honors its employees
Dallas ISD takes seriously its responsibility to treat all employees fairly. This becomes critical in cases of alleged wrongdoing when employees must be afforded the right to have their individual situations reviewed in a fair, professional and private manner. Those rights are not only spelled out in Texas law, but also supported by Dallas ISD board policy. All employees deserve dignity, respect and to not have the details of their employment record discussed by their employer in a public forum.
2) The school district should not rush to judgment
Matters involving employees, especially those involving discipline or accusations of wrongdoing, are rarely simple. In order to discern the truth and ensure a fair outcome for the district and employee, a thorough review should take place every time. The timelines for those reviews don’t always mesh with those of media outlets. However, it would not be appropriate to release partial information that violates an employee’s due process or presents an incomplete picture. The school district, like any good employer, should be judicious in performing a fair and professional review and not release incomplete information while that process is underway.
3) These are legal matters
Again, employees are afforded privacy rights as defined by Texas law and Dallas ISD Board policy. Additionally, the district is often faced with legal action as the result of a termination or other employee discipline. If Dallas ISD does not follow the law and/or its own policies regarding employee privacy, it may be subject to litigation that could be costly for taxpayers, as well as our schools. Dallas ISD is committed to ensuring an employee’s privacy rights are respected so that our resources are best directed toward educating students.
In the end, we believe in treating our employees the way we expect to be treated as individuals, with respect and by the rules. As a public institution, Dallas ISD believes and supports transparency and will do its best to balance that with our professional responsibility to our valued staff members.