Make probe results public

Behavior such as what the West Virginia Department of Education says former Brooke County school Superintendent Toni Paesano Shute engaged in is outrageously unacceptable, unpardonable and probably illegal. State officials need to get to the bottom of the matter immediately and publicly.

Shute resigned her position Wednesday, just ahead of a county Board of Education meeting at which her performance was to be discussed. After meeting behind closed doors for about 30 minutes, board members informed members of the public Shute had resigned.

Then board Vice President Stacy Hooper, who lives in Brooke County but is a special education teacher in Marshall County, revealed information she received from the state Department of Education. Officials there informed her that Shute had requested and been given copies of email messages sent and received by Hooper during 2017-18. Her emails included confidential information about some of her students, Hooper said.

Any investigation of the matter will be up to state officials, board President Theodore Pauls said.

Speculating on the situation, particularly on how and why it happened, would not be prudent until state officials have learned more about it. They need to do so with the utmost dispatch.

Their initial reaction probably will be to refuse comment on the investigation because it involves “school personnel.” That will not do.

Shute was a government official, the head of public schools in Brooke County, not just an employee with limited responsibility and authority. And the breach of privacy of which she is accused affects both many individuals and the level of trust county residents can have in their school system. Those factors make it vital that state officials not handle this as just another “personnel” problem.

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