School administrators who omit public testimony and duly submitted evidence when there are hearings on textbook adoptions from the record provided to the final elected decision makers can now get in trouble. The resulting decision can be subject to judicial challenge.I'm hoping Robin will fill us in on what she's seeing in federal legislation and regs ----
It's that omission of public information that was contrary to the story they wanted told and might have prevented the textbook decision they wanted reached that set up the "arbitrary and capricious" ruling.
Especially given the State "mathematically unsound" ruling on top of the omissions.
If the Seattle administrators had submitted everything in the public record to the school board, we would likely have a different decision.
New Standard: If you change the public record to influence how the school board sees the evidence, you are setting the board up that its decision will be subject to an arbitrary and capricious challenge.
How is that open-ended? Administrators should not be doctoring the public record to present a one-sided story to the public decision-makers.
I have read all the briefs and corresponded with some of the principals and those omissions were key to the court's ultimate finding.
To insulate themselves School Boards could simply decree that they will accept no public input on textbook decisions but as Barry Garelick notes, that attitude will likely not get them reelected.
I see less downstream craziness but I'm a lawyer so I tend to see the safety devices in place if an informed citizenry knows they exist, how to use them, and appropriately asserts the relevant facts to trigger them.
I think that is in fact what occurred in Seattle.
A chilling effect on wanton disregard of troubling facts and duly submitted evidence by school administrators and elected public officials involved with education is healthy for better decision making.
I think this is an especially important time to be having this discussion because I think we are moving away from any evidence based criteria limiting instructional materials or techniques in the US K-12 classrooms. I see that in every piece of federal legislation or regulations concerning education currently being enacted or discussed.