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New law makes principal evaluations private

Wisconsinites are about to lose the right to see how their public school principals are performing.

Governor Scott Walker and state lawmakers approved a new system last year for evaluating teachers and principals. And the Wisconsin State Journal says the law prohibits the public release of those evaluations as an exemption to the state's Open Records Law.

Teacher evaluations have always been confidential, but the law has traditionally allowed principal evaluations to be released.

Media attorney Bob Dreps says the records of elected officials, department heads, and administrators have always been considered open - and principals are the equivalent of department heads. He said a new bill would have to be passed to maintain the status quo.

And Bill Lueders of the state's Freedom of Information Council urged legislators to make the change. He says there are few things more important to people than the quality of their children's education - and for that reason, the evaluations of principals should stay open.

But Jim Lynch of the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators tells the State Journal that the new assessments are meant for school teachers and leaders to learn and grow. And Lynch said quote, "That is done best in a confidential environment."

Several districts are trying out the new evaluation standards this year. The rest are supposed to be on board by the fall of 2014.