When a Redaction is an Omission

Published May 20, 2016, issue of May 19, 2016.

In our last edition, we related the difference between Swampscott and Newton when it came to reporting incidents of anti-Semitism in the public schools. In Swampscott, each incident was reported at its point of origin by the school principal to the superintendent of schools and then from the superintendent to the local police and town leadership.

In Newton, the effort was largely indifferent to protocol. The incidents of anti-Semitism went unreported by the school principal and by the superintendent of schools – in one case, for months - and there was no synergy initially between the schools and the local police.

In other words, in Swampscott the reporting was done the right way.

In Newton, it wasn’t done at all.

The unreported anti-Semitic incidents in Newton led to a special report documenting the response of its public school leadership. The superintendent commissioned the report, by an independent third party. It documented the lack of a response to the incidents.

This report, which took several weeks to compile, was released on March 18 but withheld from the public until May 6 and even then was only released because of the efforts of the Newton Tab.

Much of the report was blanked out – page after page were redacted – so that it became a shell of itself with little new information as to why the system of reporting anti-Semitic incidents failed in Newton. Why did the school department decide to cover-up overt anti-Semitism rather than to follow existing protocols?

Newton school officials said the redactions were legally necessary to protect the civil rights of Newton school department employees under investigation.

Everyone who understands why things are the way they are in Newton knows that the redactions were done to protect the jobs of school department officials who had not done their jobs rather than to protect precious personnel records.

Protecting those jobs and stopping the publication of damning information regarding the total failure of the incident reporting protocol in Newton is what the report was all about. Lack of transparency is nearly always about protecting the guilty, not the innocent.

Once again, acts of anti-Semitism in Newton took a back seat to politically correct bureaucratic bungling and efforts to hide what had happened.

Smoke and whistles is what it was all about.

The most damning piece of this evolving puzzle: that the Newton Police Department didn’t know about the school department’s specially ordered and redacted report!

The Newton Police were unaware of the report’s existence.

What personnel law that the school department is invoking does this shocking exclusion go under?

Whose rights are more important, the students and residents, taxpayers and homeowners of Newton, or the school department folks being paid six figure salaries who aren’t performing their jobs as they should?

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