Editorials, Opinion

The information vacuum: The delicate balance of transparency and privacy

When North Elementary’s principal and vice principal were abruptly put on administrative leave in February, we warned about the dangers of an information vacuum: In the absence of facts, rumors will proliferate. 

The information blackout didn’t just permit speculation — it allowed people to envision a variety of worst-case scenarios and prevented reputable sources from assuaging people’s fears. 

Instead, the information void was filled with rumor and innuendo, spread by social media websites and word of mouth, and left to fester long enough that some tall tales took root and began to sound more and more like truth. We will not give any of said rumors the illusion of credibility by repeating them here.  

Three months later, and we are just now getting the facts: There is surveillance video of the incident in question; Vice Principal Carol Muniz faces a battery charge after allegedly striking a special-needs student in the head on Jan. 26; Principal Natalie Webb faces charges related to her alleged failure to properly report the incident; the suspensions of the substitute teacher and two aides whose leaves overlapped with Muniz’s and Webb’s were reportedly the result of two separate incidents involving the special-needs class and its students; the substitute’s contract has not been renewed; one aide has retired; and the remaining aide will receive unspecified additional training and be assigned to a different school. 

So we have some answers, but still too many questions. 

There is a delicate balance between transparency and privacy.   

We respect that the Mon County Board of Education has a responsibility to protect the privacy of students and staff. We respect that law enforcement must keep some information restricted to maintain the integrity of its investigations. 

But both entities also have a responsibility to be as transparent as possible with the public, particularly where our community’s children are concerned.