Noem Still Hiding ‘Divisive Concepts’ Report – Who Would Disclosure Hurt? –Dakota Free Press

Governor Kristi Noem is still hiding a report she should be eager to share.

In April, the governor ordered his Department of Education to prepare a report on any department’s “policies, guidelines, websites, best practices, materials, programs, training, or content standards” that promote “inherently dividers” – code for his party. Deliberate misrepresentation of critical race theory and other non-republican ideas. The governor ordered the report to be on his desk by July 1. When reporter Bob Mercer requested a copy of that report on July 7, the governor’s office balked, saying it needed ten more business days to review the law and see if the report should be treated as a public document. .

Ten days passed, and the entire governor’s office gave Mercer and the public no longer tarried:

The governor’s legal adviser wants even more time to decide whether to publicly release a report on whether “inherently divisive concepts” such as critical race theory have been found in what the Department of South Dakota Education provides K-12 schools across the state.

Katie Hruska said in a letter to KELOLAND News on Thursday that Gov. Kristi Noem’s office “now believes an additional fifteen (15) business days are required.” [Bob Mercer, “Noem’s Lawyer: Need 15 More Days on CRT Report,” KELO-TV, 2022.08.04].

As I argued when Mercer first alerted us to the governor’s resistance to releasing this report, this delay is meaningless. If ‘divisive concepts’ are a real threat to South Dakota’s education system and cultural integrity, you’d think the governor would want to highlight examples of these ‘dividing concepts’ so we can spot them. , fight them and kill them. If Noem’s own education officials have combed through their department and haven’t found a single example of “divisive concepts” or other rampant leftism in the classrooms, it could lead critics to ding Noem as the girl who cried wolf!but given its own propensity to rewrite history, Team Noem could easily pass off a negative report as a sign of success: See? My focus on this issue has already led me to get rid of all the concepts that divide our education system! South Dakota offers the best schools in America, free from the left-wing indoctrination that hurts children in sad Biden blue states!

But let’s look beyond the political agendas we might attribute to the Governor and ask the central question his lawyers had better ask themselves: on what legitimate grounds can the state keep a document secret?

SDCL 1-27-1.5 makes many exceptions to our open records law. These exceptions contemplate various harms that may outweigh the benefits of disclosing a record to the public:

  1. Invasion of personal or medical privacy that could embarrass individuals or subject them to discrimination, retaliation, identity theft or other harm.
  2. Violation of legal or professional privilege that could damage professional relationships and reputation.
  3. Disclosure of trade secrets that could harm businesses.
  4. Disclosure of negotiation or contract details that could hinder a bidding process or cost the state money.
  5. Disclosure of security information that may endanger persons or property.
  6. Disclosure of investigative information that could compromise efforts to prosecute criminals or protect victims of crime, informants or law enforcement.

Each of these possible harms (and others that my avid readers can surely imagine) are debatable. Whatever competing interest the state may claim to keep records secret, we should presume, as South Dakota law does, that a government record is public unless the government can prove that the disclosure of the file will cause real harm – not just political embarrassment – that outweighs the public interest in seeing this file.

So what harm could a report on “divisive concepts” do to the Ministry of Education?

There is no personal or medical privacy involved. The “policies, guidelines, websites, best practices, materials, programs, training or content standards” reviewed are all owned by the Department of Education, not individuals, and are themselves all public, widely distributed to schools, teachers, trainers, suppliers, parents and students. A Departmental review of its own public policies, guidelines, and the like does not invoke any personal confidentiality.

There is no legal or professional privilege involved. The Governor’s order did not send attorneys to prepare legal briefs in the event of litigation.

There are no trade secrets or contract negotiations at risk – the Governor has not ordered the Department to review the conduct of private companies. The order is limited to training, materials, etc. provided by the Department itself.

The order does not mention any security issues. The “divisional concepts” that Noem described in his order and asked his Department of Education to research have nothing to do with the school gunslinger curriculum, lockdown drills, or mock gunnery shooters (although perhaps they should, as the psychological trauma and real physical peril that such policies can create could be divisive).

The Department’s review of its policies and programs is a far cry from a criminal investigation. The state can’t prosecute anyone in the Department for mentioning systematic racism or white privilege (right?), so there can’t be anything in this report that jeopardizes a criminal investigation, an investigator or a potential victim. Again, alerting teachers, students and others to instances of “dividing concepts” would, the governor says, help prepare those targets not to fall victim to these nefarious left-wing propagandists.

Naturally, I am biased towards openness. (So ​​did the Governor, when she campaigned on fighting government secrecy as one of her four pillars of good government in 2018.) I want to see this report on “divisive concepts” so we can finally see the concrete examples of the “divisive concepts” that Noem says plague South Dakota’s education system. So I may need more than a morning blog post to imagine scenarios in which the release of this very publicly ordered report would do harm, let alone harm that would outweigh the public interest in know which “concepts that divide” his taxpayer. dollars can support the Ministry of Education.

But Noem’s lawyers have worked for a month to concoct a legal excuse not to release this report, and they still need more time to get their case together.

Amanda J. Marsh