Eye On Olympia

State Supremes: unsubstantiated allegations of teacher sexual misconduct shouldn't be made public...

In a case where the 11 petitioners are all known as John Doe, the state Supreme Court ruled 6-3 this morning that unsubstantiated allegations of teacher sexual misconduct can be withheld from public disclosure.

School districts can investigate any complaints, the court said, and when the investigations don't prove any wrongdoing, releasing a teacher's name would violate his or her right to privacy.

In a lengthy dissent, Justice Barbara Madsen blasted the ruling, saying that students are reluctant to report abuse, school district investigations are often inadequate, and that the secrecy allowed by the court's ruling is likely to allow abusers to continue to abuse children in schools.

"It is important to bear in mind that unsubstantiated does not mean untrue," Madsen wrote.

(Disclosure: the S-R and several other newspapers, broadcasters and publishing trade groups filed briefs in this case.)

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