Journalists, First Amendment Attorneys Say New Arizona School-Performance Grades Should Be Public

By Carrie Jung
Published: Monday, September 25, 2017 - 6:17pm
Updated: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 2:21pm

The Arizona State Board of Education is asking schools not to immediately share their newly issued letter grades. But some argue the school-performance scores are public records and can’t be withheld if someone requests them.

Some First Amendment attorneys and journalists are crying foul on a recent press release and email that went out to public school late last week asking officials not to immediately release their letter grades pending an embargo period. The release said the time was needed to allow schools to contest their grade.

Dan Barr, an attorney with Perkins Coie, said public records can only be withheld if the state can show there is an interest to confidentiality or if it’s in the best interest of the state.

"How the State Board of Education decides to time when it sends this information out to the news media and the public isn’t a sufficient interest to overcome the interest of openness here in the interest that these are public records," Barr said. 

The Arizona State Board of Education could not be reached for comment.