Stop Hiding Behind ‘Personnel Matter’

Privacy in some situations involving government entities and their employees is understandable. For example, if a college professor’s teaching is found wanting, terminating his employment discreetly may be all right.

But not when criminal behavior is a factor.

A Marshall University professor has pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge, involving a scheme in which West Virginia taxpayers were defrauded. Yet Marshall officials, asked whether the professor had been fired, have taken the nauseatingly familiar position that, “It’s a personnel matter and as such, we can’t comment further at this time.”

That is absurd. Remember, this is not an allegation yet to be proved in court. The man pleaded guilty.

State law is full of provisions protecting public employees. But what about protecting the public who pays those workers’ salaries?

State legislators ought to review those employee-related statutes.

In any case involving proven criminal conduct, local and state government entities — including county boards of education — ought to be required to reveal what, if any, action they have taken in regard to the employee in question.