What Danger?

By: 
NLJ Staff

 

R

eported on page one in this week’s News Letter Journal is a story outlining the Wyoming Democratic Party’s concerns about the safety of public servants due to the release of Wyoming school district employee’s names, positions and salaries to State Senator Tom James (R-Sweetwater). Weston County School District No. 1, in a letter drafted by Trustee Dana-Mann Tavegia, echoed these concerns, stating that the district is concerned about the names of employees being associated with the positions and salaries. 

All of these things are already public knowledge. 

In our opinion, this safety concern is fabricated as are the so-called dangers posed to school district employees. James has said that he is gathering this information to make informed decisions regarding the budgets of school districts and other state agencies. 

The letter drafted by Mann-Tavegia even states that the district is “unaware” of the manner in which the senator will use the information, but claims there is a concern about staff confidentiality.

This claim is ridiculous. This is information that is already available.

A wealth of information that goes far beyond a name, position title and salary for school district employees in Weston County can easily be accessed through information already made available to the public online by the district –- and many employees themselves!

A search to determine the name and salary for positions in Weston County School District No. 1 can be undertaken easily on the school district’s website. As an example, a search for the district’s “At Risk Coordinator” in the staff directory accessed at the top of the home page takes you to a smiling photo of that individual, the at- risk coordinator for Weston County School District No. 1 and their email address.  Also listed in Weston County School District No. 1’s easily searchable online data and published in the News Letter Journal is the list of salaries for every school district employee including at-risk coordinator, food service employees, teachers and administrators and anything else you can think of.

It is simple to then turn to Facebook and search for the at-risk coordinator, and by using the school district website guarantees you are finding the same  by comparing photos.

This exercise can be undertaken with just about any school district employee with equal success, and in fact that is probably true of the majority of public servants in general as government entities choose to engage more and more with people online. 

In the example we used, the amount of information easily available expanded rapidly once social media was accessed. There was a whole new avenue of information that we see no need to publish but were able to discover simply by searching for one position title for Weston County School District No. 1, including the names of family members, friends, favorite activities, hangouts and even maiden names!

This is only the tip of the iceberg, and a search on Google will rapidly provide you with an address and phone number associated with that address. 

So, what are the Wyoming Democratic Party, the local school district and even State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow so worried about? What is the senator getting from the Wyoming Department of Education that our school district employees and other public servants don’t already put out there themselves?  

When are public officials going to stop claiming there is a danger every time somebody wants information, while the vast majority of them willingly give up far more personal information to complete strangers online? 

Do our own public officials really fear the residents of Wyoming so much that they believe the release of public information to one of them – especially a publicly elected legislator – creates a real danger? 

If they truly feel such a threat exists, they need to be more careful with their own information, and quit claiming they are being endangered when citizens make a simple request for information they have every right to as taxpayers. Until then, such claims are unwarranted and shouldn’t be uttered beyond the same rooms they were authored in. 

Category:

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