AUGUSTA – Gov. John Baldacci is considering asking lawmakers to revise a 94-year-old state law that keeps secret the reasons why teachers have lost their certification, barring them from the classroom.

The law was brought to Baldacci’s attention after an Associated Press series about sexual misconduct by teachers in the nation’s schools. Maine was the only state that provided no disciplinary information to the AP.

Baldacci said he has discussed Maine’s confidentiality law, which dates back to 1913, with Education Commissioner Sue Gendron. He said he may submit legislation to change it during the next session, which begins in January.

As part of its investigation, the AP requested teacher decertification records in all of the states. They revealed that sexual misconduct allegations led states to take action against the licenses of 2,570 educators from 2001 through 2005.

The figure includes licenses that were revoked, denied and surrendered.

Young people were victims in at least 69 percent of the cases, and the large majority of those were students.

In Maine, the state Department of Education denied a Freedom of Access request for the records, citing a law that prohibits the release of any information related to why teacher certificates have been suspended, revoked or denied.

The AP’s review of Maine news reports, data from the state’s Sex Offender Registry and records from state courts confirmed convictions of two teachers and one other school employee between 2001 and 2005 for sex offenses.

Baldacci noted that Maine has a law requiring fingerprinting and criminal background checks to protect children in schools. But he said that under the present system, a teacher in Maine could commit an inappropriate act leading to a loss of certification but that information would not be released to other states.

“We have to review and revise our law so that we’re able to be helpful on a national basis,” Baldacci told the AP.

Asked whether he expects a bill to be submitted during the upcoming session, he said, “When you are made aware of circumstances that could be harmful to children, you do want to act. I want to make sure we do all we can do.”

Maine’s confidentiality law was first passed in 1913 and revised decades later. It says that “complaints, charges or accusations, and any other information or materials that may result in action to deny, revoke or suspend certification shall be confidential.”


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