Published Online: November 30, 2004
Published in Print: December 1, 2004, as Accused Wis. Teacher’s Records Must be Released, Court Rules

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Accused Wis. Teacher’s Records Must be Released, Court Rules

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A Wisconsin teacher lost a bid to keep part of his personnel file private when a state appeals court ruled in favor of an open-records request filed by the The Journal Times of Racine.

The newspaper was running a series of articles last spring about sexual-misconduct charges against Larry R. Robinson, a special education teacher for the Racine Unified School District. Accused of touching three girls at a middle school, he is awaiting trial in February on three charges of first-degree felony assault of a child.

The 21,000-student district released some of Mr. Robinson’s file, and the teacher filed a court action against the newspaper and the district to block the release of other portions of his record.

A Racine County circuit court judge ruled against the teacher, and the Second District Court of Appeals agreed in its Nov. 17 ruling. The three-judge panel of the appeals court found that the documents in question didn’t relate to the criminal proceedings, and that their release was unlikely to jeopardize the teacher’s right to a fair trial, given the amount of information already disclosed about him.

The court noted that the Wisconsin Supreme Court has held that the public’s interest in teacher misconduct is “of heightened importance.”

Vol. 24, Issue 14, Page 4

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