Portland Public Schools paid a law firm more than $11,000 to keep secret the trove of records detailing its mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints against an educator.

The Multnomah County district attorney ultimately ruled law firm Miller Nash Graham & Dunn’s legal arguments flawed and ordered the records be released. That order put an end to what had been a five-month public records battle with The Oregonian/OregonLive.

The Oregonian/OregonLive used those records as a primary basis for a news story that revealed how district officials protected educator Mitch Whitehurst time and again at the expense of children. That article spurred the school district to launch an outside investigation of its own into how it handled Whitehurst.

Under the direction of district lawyer Stephanie Harper, who was filling in as general counsel at the time, the district paid Miller Nash to argue against the release of Whitehurst-related records, even though the school board had taken a stance in favor of examining and learning from those records. The board twice directed staff to scrutinize how the district handled Whitehurst. But no one did.

Read the whole story at The Oregonian.


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