You might recall from a post I released approximately 1.5 years ago a story about how a person who self-identifies as “Virginia SGP,” who is also now known as Brian Davison — a parent of two public school students in the affluent Loudoun, Virginia area (hereafter referred to as Virginia SGP), sued the state of Virginia in an attempt to force the release of teachers’ student growth percentile (SGP) data for all teachers across the state.
More specifically, Virginia SGP “pressed for the data’s release because he thinks parents have a right to know how their children’s teachers are performing, information about public employees that exists but has so far been hidden. He also want[ed] to expose what he sa[id was] Virginia’s broken promise to begin [to use] the data to evaluate how effective the state’s teachers are.” The “teacher data should be out there,” especially if taxpayers are paying for it.
In January of 2016, a Richmond, Virginia judge ruled in Virginia SGP’s favor. The following April, a Richmond Circuit Court judge ruled that the Virginia Department of Education was to also release Loudoun County Public Schools’ SGP scores by school and by teacher, including teachers’ identifying information. Accordingly, the judge noted that the department of education and the Loudoun school system failed to “meet the burden of proof to establish an exemption’ under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act [FOIA]” preventing the release of teachers’ identifiable information (i.e., beyond teachers’ SGP data). The court also ordered VDOE to pay Davison $35,000 to cover his attorney fees and other costs.
As per an article published last week, the Virginia Supreme Court overruled this former ruling, noting that the department of education did not have to provide teachers’ identifiable information along with teachers’ SGP data, after all.
See more details in the actual article here, but ultimately the Virginia Supreme Court concluded that the Richmond Circuit Court “erred in ordering the production of these documents containing teachers’ identifiable information.” The court added that “it was [an] error for the circuit court to order that the School Board share in [Virginia SGP’s] attorney’s fees and costs,” pushing that decision (i.e., the decision regarding how much to pay, if anything at all, in legal fees) back down to the circuit court.
Virginia SGP plans to ask for a rehearing of this ruling. See also his comments on this ruling here.
I will post a copy of my rehearing petition when I file it in the next couple of weeks. The Virginia Supreme Court, who also issued such seminal decisions as Loving v Virginia in which it ruled blacks couldn’t marry whites and Naim v Naim in which it ruled Asians couldn’t marry whites, issued an opinion failing to address the key arguments and in contrast to the words of the General Assembly. It’s a political decision issued by a bunch of politicians dressed up in robes. Not a single collegiate or high school AP English teacher could support their grammatical interpretation of the law. It’s a decision that union money (NEA/LEA) can buy.