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Publisher apologizes for posting private information

While attending the first meeting of the Redistricting Committee, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, as a reporter, I received a copy of the proposed map, as did about 20 other people in the School Committee Room. The information was also projected on a screen. The copy of the map I had was black and white; others had color copies.

As became clear to me later, all of the copies had small dots indicating where students live. Smaller dots show residences of special-education students.

The next day, after reporting about the meeting, members of the public pointed out a contradiction, one that I was well aware of: Administrators wanted the general public to see the draft map only after more work on it had taken place, yet the proposed map had been discussed in a public meeting. That makes it a public record and thus publishable.

In response to this issue, as well as the editor of Arlington Patch saying he would file a records request for the draft map Thursday, Nov. 17, I filed such a request with Superintendent Kathleen Bodie. Before the School Committee meeting that night, Bodie told me she would provide a digital file of the map the next day. Shortly thereafter, School Committee Chair Cindy Starks handed me a packet that included a color map.

The next morning, without looking at the details, I scanned and published the color map. I should have waited for version Bodie promised, but I didn't, as it already had been handed out to 21 people and no one at the Nov. 15 meeting had mentioned special-needs children.

The details of the map published for three-plus hours were small dots and had no names or addresses associated with them, but it showed the location for these students.

As this was information available to 21 people at a public meeting, the question arises: Why was it made available in the first place? Is it relevant to pinpoint locations for special-needs students?

Nevertheless, I should have been more careful about my attention to details that are important to many.

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Wednesday, 17 July 2024

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