For decades, Portland Public Schools protected a teacher with a history of sexually abusing students, covering up for him by ignoring complaints about his behavior and allowing him to continue his assaults.
We know this sordid tale thanks to Bethany Barnes of The Oregonian, who early this year wrote detailed investigative reports about PPS’s actions in keeping the teacher’s behavior quiet.
Barnes couldn’t have told this story without her forcing the school district to release records about the teacher. She filed a public records request, something that’s everyone’s right under Oregon law. But the school district refused to release the information she wanted. So Barnes appealed to the Multnomah County district attorney’s office, which concluded the PPS wasn’t following the law. The DA ordered the documents be released, giving the newspaper — and the public — a fuller picture of what really happened.
Oregon’s 36 district attorneys play a vital role in our communities — they convene grand juries, prosecute criminals and sometimes launch their own investigations. The locally elected county prosecutors also have a little-known authority and duty to ensure our government is open and transparent: If a local agency improperly refuses to release public records in its possession, the county district attorney has the power to order those records be released.Read More (Offsite)