GREEN RIVER — The Rocket-Miner was forbidden Thursday from attending an event listed on Sweetwater County School District No. 2’s public calendar.
Saying “we don’t want press in,” District Assistant Superintendent Jamie Christensen said “we’re talking about personnel on that deal,” adding that district administrators do not want it publicly known “who we are talking about in the room.”
It was a repeat of Nov. 9, when the Rocket-Miner visited Green River High School, expecting to be able to report on the same program but for secondary administrators and instructors, where principals train teachers. The district revived the programs, called “instructional rounds,” this year.
After the first denial, Wyoming Press Association attorney Bruce Moats said “it’s not a legal (issue), bottom line, but I do see there’s a story there.”
He thought out loud, saying, “If they were talking about individual teachers … .”
“I would certainly question them about what this is and where they are going next from this,” he then said.
The morning of Nov. 9, Christensen said the Rocket-Miner had walked into a “pre-briefing” with principals and assistant principals from GRHS, Expedition Academy and Lincoln Middle School. Christensen said that the individuals were talking about teachers. The newspaper pointed out that it was on the district’s public calendar before leaving. The Rocket-Miner called Christensen later that day and was told about the program. During that conversation, the newspaper said that it was interested not necessarily in going into the classrooms during the assessments, where private information would be inevitably available. Instead, it was happy to sit in on the principals’ discussions, it said. Christensen was acknowledging of the comment.
The afternoon before the second rounds, on Wednesday, the Rocket-Miner called Christensen to notify of attendance. Then it got a call back three minutes before the rounds were to begin, at 8 a.m.
“There are a lot of things on the calendar that aren’t necessarily a public meeting,” Christensen said this time, then repeating points from Nov. 9.
Moats, not seeing any harm in terms of “policy-ese,” said there are two questions: “if you have the legal right to be there and if you do not, a right to be there otherwise.”
“Something that goes on, what couldn’t I see?” Moats asked. “I think there’s a story there.”