PILOT EDITORIAL - ICCC case far afield

Monday, March 18, 2002

The arguments of lawyers for four Iowa Central Community College officials, as reported in the state's major media, seem way off base.

The lawyers are trying to convince the Webster County court to dismiss the case involving tampering with the academic records of ICCC athletes before it comes to trial April 2.

Their main argument seems to be that there is no crime because the public officials have the power to place information either true or false into a student's record without violating specific state law. It's a cute technicality, but if the four men - including the college president and a former Storm Lake football coach now leading the Tritons - have entered pleas of not guilty, they shouldn't have to depend on such cover.

Lawyers also plan to argue that academic records should be considered confidential, and so aren't public records at all. If you have no public records, you can't be found guilty of tampering with public records, they figure. That dodge doesn't address the issues either.

No question mistakes were made. But are they criminal? Those involved have paid with their records and their reputations, and the entire school has suffered enough for over a year. We hope for a brief, responsible trial that will allow the school to get back to business.

But we would rather see that determination come on an honest and full disclosure of what happened and why, than on a cute twist of language and technicalities. In the end, the latter approach would do nothing to clear the names of a fine community college and restore the respect its leaders deserve.