October 21, 2013
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently tackled this interesting issue and ruled in favor of a school principal disciplined for disclosing the results of such an investigation.
The appellate court reversed the decision of a lower court to uphold the principal’s three-day suspension for sending a one-word text to a colleague about her exoneration on charges of harassment and retaliation.
The Commonwealth Court rejected the school district’s claim that its directive to keep the investigation a “confidential process,” included the outcome.
The court explained that there was no basis for finding that the principal should have known that by texting the word “unfounded,” she violated a school district directive relating to her conduct during the investigation, or that the Public School Code mandated that targets of school investigations keep the outcome of the investigation a secret.
Karen Hertzler v. West Shore School District, 45 PPER 43 (Pa.Cmwlth Ct. 10/07/13)