More Questions About LA Times’ Decision To Publish District Allegations

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Following up on one of last week’s big issues, the Poynter Institute’s Jim Warren noted on Friday that the decision by the LA Times to request and publish the investigative file on a famed former LAUSD teacher had proven to be divisive and could turn out to be problematic if Esquith is exonerated:

“The teacher did not appeal the decision. But there’s been no independent corroboration of the claims, and he’s not yet confronted his accusers in a related wrongful termination lawsuit he’s filed…. Litigation is still to play out.

“If Mathews is right about a witch hunt, maybe we’ll replay that long-ago classic moment involving Ray Donovan, a Reagan-era Labor Secretary. Remember him? He stepped down in 1985 amid fraud and larceny charges related to a mob-tinged construction scheme. After being pummeled in the press, he was acquitted at trial and declared, “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?”

Poynter’s Warren kindly credits this blog for fleshing out some of the journalistic questions and issues surrounding the LA Times decision.  I’m just as curious about why Esquith’s files weren’t exempt under privacy laws as most personnel files are.

On Twitter, former USNews education editor Ben Wildavsky noted that he didn’t “see a real journalistic issue with running allegations against a public figure, w/opp for rebuttal.. But it’s really, really important not to assume this stuff is all true. Remember Duke, UVA, etc etc etc.”

Related posts: LA Times Publishes Allegations Against Famed LA Teacher

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.