Feedback: Teacher article too one-sided
July 3, 2008 · Updated 9:19 PM
The Oak Harbor Education Association objects to the Whidbey News-Times March 2 story concerning the arrest and release of a local teacher. The article was inflammatory and prejudicial, its news value far eclipsed by its sensationalism. By printing a one-sided version of an unproven accusation, the Whidbey News-Times effectively ended the 28-and-a-half-year career of a veteran teacher.
While it is true that the newspaper has an obligation to inform the public, it is just as compelling that the newspaper respects the rights and reputation of individuals. To do otherwise is to act as an irresponsible steward of constitutional rights especially when those First Amendment freedoms are exercised by the only newspaper in town.
A public school teacher must have the confidence of the community he or she serves. Having parents willing to believe in you to entrust their children to your care and counsel is a fragile intangible. Once it is gone, it cannot easily if at all be recovered. Even if the accusation is proven false, the taint spurs a corrosive and poisonous atmosphere of suspicion, distrust, and rumor. That is why a responsible newspaper balances the right of the public to be informed with the right of the accused to be presumed innocent.
Peter Szalai and June Zacharias
Oak Harbor Education Assn.