If the teachers at your child's school were carrying concealed weapons, wouldn't you want to know? How about the person driving your kid's school bus?
Wouldn't you feel it's your right to learn what kind of training they received? What protocols the school follows? Who has the authority to act?
Don't you think it's your right to know if the school your daughter enters each morning has a security plan or not? Who was involved in drafting it?
How many school resource officers are assigned to your kids' schools?
And does the security plan address not only external threats but also the social climate within the school that can prove just as provocative? Wouldn't it be helpful to know if the school has an anti-bullying policy and under what circumstances educators intervene?
Whether you have a child in school or not, don't you believe someone ought to disclose what all of this costs - and where the money to pay for it is coming from?
No. At least not in the eyes of the Idaho Senate.
By a 33-to-1 vote, it passed Meridian Republican Marv Hagedorn's bill to boost school security plans. It is now before the House.
Nothing in the first half of Hagedorn's bill seems unreasonable. It calls for:
- School boards and local sheriffs "or their designees" to work toward "creating, training to and measuring the effectiveness of individual school security and safety plans."
- Ongoing training, assessment of the plans and improvements.
- Annual reports to the State Department of Education.
That's the first page.
Hagedorn then devotes nearly three pages to cloaking the entire process behind the veil of official secrecy.
In other words, Hagedorn's bill is a full-scale exemption from Idaho's public records law. If it passes, not only the individual school security and safety plan, but the "related annual reports" would be beyond your reach.
That's a serious step. Idaho starts with the presumption that its pubic records are public. It's one of the last lines of defense for ordinary citizens to hold their elected and appointed officials to account.
You can understand Hagedorn's caution - to a point. Nobody wants a would-be intruder seeking out weak spots in a school security assessment.
"I wish there were an easier way to do that," Hagedorn said last month.
But why extend that confidentiality to a compilation the State Department of Education prepares? Such a report would tell you what kinds of threats are out there - without telegraphing the location. It would enlighten Idahoans about some of the strategies being employed - such as arming teachers or hiring more SROs - without yielding vulnerable details. And most of all, it would bring taxpayers and parents into what is shaping up as a closed loop - presided over by a State Department of Education that was just taken to the political woodshed last year for disregarding both groups in its 2011 school overhaul package.
To require disclosure of an individual school district's security plan defeats its purpose.
But to shield from public review a state report dealing with 115 school districts is an overreaction. It places educators, cops and politicians beyond the reach of the very people they serve.
Cheer to Masterson
Post Register, Idaho Falls
CHEERS to Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson. Opponents of plugging the gaping hole in Idaho's Human Rights Act generally fall back on one claim - that there is no discrimination against gays and lesbians in Idaho.
Masterson put that fallacy to rest during an informational hearing before the House and Senate State Affairs committees this week.
Masterson described a violent attack against a man perceived to be gay. "People aren't reporting crimes because they fear being outed to their employers," Masterson said, describing that sad situation as one that promotes crime and threatens justice.