EDITORIAL: No more secrecy in Schenectady

Report critical of ex-superintendent should be released to public, school board members should comment
Larry Spring
Larry Spring

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

What would make any public official feel it was OK to keep a big secret from the people they were elected to serve?

What would make them think they could make a deal and brush all the dirt under the rug instead of sharing important information with the citizens?

At issue is a report delivered by the district’s law firm to the Schenectady school board shortly before Superintendent Larry Spring resigned in March.

The law firm’s communication, first reported by the Times Union, was prompted by an alleged sexual harassment complaint brought against Spring, and concluded that Spring engaged in a “pattern” of abusing younger women in the district.

What exactly makes board so special among all the elected officials in America that they feel they have the exclusive right to hide, then refuse to release, such a critical report about the superintendent — the most important, most influential, highest-paid person in the school district?

What allows board members to think they have the right to continue to cover it up? To continue not to comment about the allegations? To continue to mislead and misinform and misdirect? Where does that right come from?

Certainly not from the people.

Shortly after the district received the report from the law firm, the school board accepted Spring’s resignation and signed a non-disclosure agreement with Spring stating that neither side would say anything disparaging against one another or bring legal action against one another.

So from what we can glean from the timeline of events, the school board was made aware of the allegations, then took steps to cover them up by agreeing to the non-disclosure document.

Now, they’re hiding behind that document to refuse to release either the law firm’s report or to comment about the allegations, with the school board president claiming that the resignation is confidential and saying they don’t comment on “personnel” matters.

How’s that for some fancy footwork? They learn about something the public should be told about, then sign an agreement to keep that information secret, then claim they can’t talk about it.

Let’s make this clear: The public has a right to know about a serious allegation like this.

The public pays the taxes that support the district and pay the school administrators. In fact, taxpayers are still paying Spring’s health insurance through the end of June, according to the separation document.

Not only do taxpayers have a right to know this information, but so do other affected parties, including teachers and other staff, parents and students.

A non-disclosure agreement signed after the fact demonstrates a calculated attempt by the school board to keep this information from the citizens.

Is that how a representative body is supposed to act in this country? We don’t think it is. In fact, we know it isn’t.

And so does everybody else.

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