THE HUNTER REPORT

Camera Ban Policy & Vote

By: Pat Hunter

Despite the News-Herald's report “School board members decide not to ban cameras” as Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over till it's over."

The Loudon County Board of Education will vote on the camera ban policy, as well as other policies, at Thursday’s Sept. 10th 7:00 P.M. meeting to be held at the Annex basement meeting room in Loudon.

Many thanks to the Knoxville News Sentinel for their coverage concerning open government and transparency issues; these were important issues in Knox County and now in neighboring Loudon County.

I am very disappointed in our hometown newspaper who has taken a far different approach. The hometown paper (News Herald) has opted not to cover citizen comments  concerning censorship issues. First with the Loudon County TV-3 editing citizen comments from public meetings and now a camera ban that takes aim at the public. I guess if the school board allows the hometown newspaper to bring their camera to public meetings, a camera ban that targets the public is much "ado" about nothing!   

As per the News Herald article, the “notion” that the Loudon County School board would attempt to ban cameras” isn’t a notion, it’s a fact that should have been reported as such. 

The latest wording expands an existing policy, “No one shall bring a camera or other photographic equipment to Board meetings without the consent of the Board.” The camera ban will include members of the public and moves the wording to policy 1.400 (School Board Meetings) and strikes out the existing wording from policy 1.502 (Board Meetings News Coverage.) The policy was on the Sept. 3rd workshop agenda for review and discussion and subsequent Sept. 10th school board meeting for a vote.

On Nov. 13, 2008, the Loudon County Board of Education approved Section 1, Board Operations including policy 1.502, which said,“…The press shall not bring a camera, camcorder or other photographic equipment to Board meetings without the consent of the Board.” The policy was originally issued on Nov. 9, 2000 and may be located on the school board website, Board of Education Policy Manual.

On Friday, the Oak Ridger newspaper spoke to Keys Fillauer, Oak Ridge BOE Chair who said he hasn't seen the proposed TSBA policy.

Oak Ridge school meetings has televised their meetings for years. The article also quoted Oak Ridge Superintendent Tom Bailey, "We don't have an official policy. We operate on the practice we've had. We allow it and we welcome it." ..."The media knows how to behave and we think the general public knows how to behave," Bailey added. "I don't think our School Board or I would support changing anything that we do currently."

Last year, the policy was approved by the Loudon County school board but this year citizens have spoken loud and clear that they will not stand idly by and say nothing about a camera ban aimed at the public that appears to violate the Constitution and Open Meetings law.  

 

NOTE: The Loudon County Board of Education is a member of the Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA) and pays thousand of dollars in yearly membership dues.

From the TSBA website:  http://www.tsba.net/

"FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. What do TSBA Member Boards receive from the policy department?

They receive:

  • Model policies addressing a wide range of topics from recent legislative and state regulation changes to court decisions.
  • Consultations by telephone, fax, e-mail or mail for assistance in the development and revision of individual school system policies.
  • Assistance in writing new policies as well as review of individual policies for educational soundness and legal implications."

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09-09-09