Over the past few years, a series of troubling scandals have shaken Portlanders’ trust in their public school system.
In 2016, it was revealed that district officials had withheld lab test results showing that most of the city’s public schools had elevated levels of lead in their drinking water. Last year, in-depth investigations by The Oregonian found that the district had helped conceal allegations of sexual misconduct against two teachers – Mitch Whitehurst and Norm Scott – who later went on to assault at least a dozen female students. A subsequent investigation in the Portland Tribune uncovered that Andrew Oshea, a special education teacher who had been placed on administrative leave in 2015 after he was charged with drunk driving and assault, was still on the district’s payroll. In fact, Oshea continued to collect paychecks while serving time in jail for a violating a restraining order filed by his ex-girlfriend.
These scandals make clear that Portland Public Schools has a serious transparency problem. Yet the Portland Association of Teachers is now trying to limit access to public records in the district and they’re using their new collective bargaining agreement to do it.