Ad violates teacher confidentiality, Federation says

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(Baton Rouge – October 1, 2013) A recent full-page advertisement purchased on behalf of the East Baton Rouge Parish school Board violates the confidentiality of teachers’ evaluation results and should never have appeared, according to the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers.

“They may have been well-intentioned, thinking they were recognizing teachers for doing well on a flawed and unfair evaluation system,” said EBRFT President Carnell Washington, “but the fact is that the school board violated state statute and the privacy of teachers.”

In a Sunday newspaper, a full page advertisement appeared with a school-by-school listing of parish teachers who were rated “highly effective” on the state’s controversial new teacher evaluation system.

“Act 54 of 2010 is very clear,” Washington said. “It reads that the teacher evaluations ‘are confidential, do not constitute a public record, and shall not be released or shown to any person’.”

Prior to publication in the Sunday Advocate, Washington said, teachers were not informed about or asked for permission to publish their names and their evaluation results. A number of teachers have complained to the union about this violation of their confidentiality, he said.

In addition to the violation of law, Washington said, the advertisement misused evaluation data and gave a misleading impression of the performance of other teachers in the system.

“It’s not a contest to see how many highly effective teachers are in a school,” Washington said. “Publishing this data is unfair to all of the other teachers who may be doing a fantastic job in the classroom.

“I have spoken to principals who are concerned that the advertisement may lead to parents requesting the transfer of their children,” he said. “That interferes with principals’ ability to make the staffing decisions they feel are best for their school”

Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan said the board’s release of confidential information raises important statewide issues and serves as a cautionary to all districts.

"It simply shouldn't be done," noted Monaghan.

“This raises the whole question of what evaluation is for, the appropriate use of evaluation data, and whether or not Louisiana’s teacher evaluation system is even an appropriate method of determining a teacher’s effectiveness,” Monaghan said.

The LFT and other organizations have filed suit in courts around the state challenging the evaluation system, Monaghan said.

“We are dealing with evaluation laws that were ill-conceived, poorly drafted and hastily enacted with little public input,” Monaghan said. “The courts are in the process of sorting out the legality of our system. For a school board to publicly release this evaluation data is not just illegal, it is reckless and harmful to public education.”