Judge orders Newport-Mesa to restore redacted material in report on Mariners

A judge ordered the Newport-Mesa Unified School District to restore redacted material in a report on an investigation into an award application submitted by former Mariners Elementary School Principal Laura Canzone, pictured in 2015. (File Photo)

An Orange County Superior Court judge this week ordered the Newport-Mesa Unified School District to restore many of the redactions in a report prepared by a firm that investigated what led to alleged inaccuracies in application for a prestigious academic award submitted by Mariners Elementary School.

Advertisement

District officials filed the report with Judge Linda Marks in March so she could conduct a private court inspection to determine how much of the report could be made public.

Newport-Mesa officials had argued they shouldn’t publicly disclose many of the findings in the interest of protecting the privacy rights of employees.

Advertisement

After reviewing the report filed under seal, Marks found the redactions “exceeded those necessary to protect the privacy of third parties” and instructed the district to black out “only to the extent they identify employees, staff or students,” according to minutes dated Sept. 4.

Marks directed the district to “not overly redact information ... directly relevant” to then-Principal Laura Canzone or the program at issue.

Lastly, Marks ordered Newport-Mesa to “un-redact the credibility determinations of the investigator” with the exception of employee identities and the dates of interviews.

Asked for comment, district spokeswoman Annette Franco said in an email Friday that “to our knowledge, there has not been a final ruling on this matter and therefore we do not have information to share at this time.”

John Caldecott, the district's former director of human resources, petitioned last year for a court order to make public documents related to the investigation.

“After promising the public that this report would be available, they have delayed and challenged and appealed, and they’re finally going to be held accountable for what they committed to the public,” Caldecott said in an interview this week.

In 2016, teachers at the Newport Beach school alleged inaccuracies in a Gold Ribbon Award application that Canzone submitted to the California Department of Education the previous fall, when she was known as Laura Sacks. The school received the award.

Canzone later requested new duties and was transferred to Costa Mesa Middle School as a principal on special assignment.

Shortly after the district announced that an independent investigation of the matter had been completed by Dana Point-based Nicole Miller and Associates, Canzone submitted a letter of resignation in March 2017.

Advertisement
Advertisement