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IDAHO EDUCATION OFFICIAL SEEKS WAY TO GET UTAH RECORDS OF RUPERT TEACHER

An Idaho certification board postponed a hearing for a Rupert teacher after Utah school officials refused to provide copies of documents from the teacher's old personnel file, an Idaho official says.

Jordan School District officials in suburban Salt Lake City recently denied a request from Jim Smith, Idaho Department of Education certification director, for Brent Pierce's Jordan records.But Smith said he would seek other ways to get the documents.

The Idaho Education Department's Professional Standards Commission was scheduled to hear Pierce's case Wednesday. The state has been investigating whether Pierce violated teaching ethics rules by allegedly inappropriately touching several of his fourth-grade students when he taught at Acequia Elementary School last school year.

Smith rescheduled the hearing for Oct. 26, the next time the Professional Standards Commission meets.

Former 5th District Magistrate Bob Workman dismissed sexual abuse charges against Pierce involving the same girls in July, ruling that no evidence was produced at a preliminary hearing indicating criminal behavior.

Pierce has denied all allegations against him.

He was a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Peruvian Park Elementary School, Southland Elementary School and Alta View Elementary School in the Jordan School District between 1975 and 1981, according to district records.

Pierce taught at Acequia from 1986 until last school year, and Minidoka School District Superintendent Michael Bishop hired him as a teacher for children held at the Mini-Cassia Juvenile Detention Center this fall.

Smith said former Alta View Principal Beverly Thompson confirmed in a telephone conversation this week that letters had been placed in Pierce's personnel file from the parents of five Alta View students claiming he had touched the girls inappropriately.

The letters are among the documents Smith has requested.

"The girls were disturbed," he said. "It upset a classroom of girls."

Smith said Jordan officials did not use "reasonable judgment" in responding to his request. "It doesn't mean we won't get the records," he said. "It just means they won't freely give them to me."

Jordan School District spokeswoman Patty Dahl said federal law prohibits the district from releasing teacher evaluations or complaints without a court order or permission from the teacher.

Smith said he would contact his counterpart at the Utah Department of Education for help obtaining the documents. If that doesn't work, Smith said he could contact the parents of former Alta View students personally and get statements from them.

The Professional Standards Commission will decide whether to drop the case or to sign a complaint against Pierce in a process that could lead to suspension or revocation of Pierce's teaching certificate.