The elimination was recommended by the Data Reporting Committee of the Indiana State Board of Education. The rationale for the change was limited to one sentence: “Publication is expensive and the report is largely unusable in that format.”
Rather than publication, the performance report would be published on the Department of Education website and each school’s website.
“Merely posting the reports on the DOE and school district websites would effectively hide the information in plain sight,” said Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel.
A 2014 survey conducted by American Opinion Research showed that 3.8 million adult Hoosiers read at least one newspaper a week. The survey found that 85 percent of adult Hoosiers support the idea of published public notice advertising.
Even when it’s pointed out that such advertising costs may cost government units several thousands of dollars a year, 64 percent still said government units should publish these notices.
“There are no representatives for the public on the Data Reporting Committee, and only 10 representatives from the education field,” Key said.
“Unfortunately, many government officials look at public notice in terms of how it impacts them, not the benefit to the public to be informed,” Key said.
“This unfortunate attitude was best summed up by a Lake County school superintendent who told a publisher that ‘the only thing that happens when we publish public notices is that people come to our meetings and give us crap about what we’re doing’.”
As of Jan. 2, only a few bills had been released to the public by the General Assembly. The HSPA does not have a bill number that includes the DOE recommendation to eliminate publication of the performance report.
The published report goes back to the time of President George W. Bush who lauded the government transparency of the annual school performance report and its publication in local newspapers.
Key said the readership of the report was evidenced by the fact realtors indicated property values were impacted in Hamilton County because home buyers were using the information in determining which neighborhoods they wanted to live so their children could attend higher performing elementary schools.
HSPA has indicated its concern with this recommendation to the committee chairmen of the Senate and House education committees – Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, and Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis.