NO CAMERA BAN video streaming  

Click to view video clip - Board vote

By: Pat Hunter

September 13, 2009

The public can breathe a sigh of relief now that a proposed camera ban policy will not go into effect at school board meetings. The Loudon County Board of Education voted at Thursday's Sept. 3rd board meeting, to eliminate the wording from two different policies (1.400 and 1.502) pertaining to banning cameras at school board without the consent of the board. 

The camera ban proposal was reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel. This news made statewide news. Links to Knoxville News Sentinel - Hugh Willett, freelance reporter.

Loudon residents, school board comfortable with camera at meetings

Knox won't join camera-shy school boards

Loudon board seeks control of cameras in meetings

The camera ban policy was first listed on the Loudon County Board of Education's workshop agenda for discussion and subsequent action. The school board pays yearly membership dues to the Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA) and TSBA provides policy services to their members. The TSBA was now proposing wording, which targeted the public. "The policy change is intended to include new media such as bloggers" said a TSBA spokesperson to the press. Coincidently, The HUNTER REPORT showed video clips of public officials from three different levels of local government including the school board chair's outburst at a school board workshop meeting, a commission workshop meeting and solid waste commission meeting. THE HUNTER REPORT CODE OF CONDUCT  

Reaction was swift from open government advocate Frank Gibson, Executive Director with the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government (TCOG). Mr. Gibson didn't mince words, he was quoted as saying, "The TSBA position is flawed, and I would expect an organization that represents school board members across the state would provide better legal advice."

"According to Frank Gibson...policies restricting the use of cameras or video recording devices at public meetings, including school board meetings, are unconstitutional.

Although the recent TSBA recommendation cites an October 1995 state attorney general's opinion supporting the right of school boards to limit access of cameras, it ignores a subsequent December 1995 AG opinion that nullified the earlier opinion, Gibson said.

Loosely worded policies that allow school boards to ban cameras are the gateway to the slippery slope, Gibson said. School boards often create controversy then try to limit controversy by going behind closed doors, he said." Source: News Sentinel - Sept. 3, 2009.

School Board Meeting - September 10, 2009

At Thursday's Sept. 10th Loudon County Board of Education meeting, Ft. Loudon Middle school band students performed for the school board, parents and audience members. Just imagine if parents and relatives couldn't take pictures or video-tape the students performing. 

The school board voted to wave first reading on the policies. By doing so, the policies go into effect immediately rather than taking two separate readings.

Director Wayne Honeycutt recommended removing line 7 and 8 from the proposed Tennessee School Board Association's (TSBA) Policy 1.400, which said, "...No one shall bring a camera, camcorder or other photographic equipment to board meetings without the consent of the board."

Another change to the policy is that workshops will be held on the 1st Thursday of each month unless changed by the consensus of the board. Regular meetings of the board will be held on the 2nd Thursday of the month, he added. The school board proposes to hold school board workshop meetings at the nine school campuses and director Honeycutt was asked to come up with a schedule and report back.

Click to view video clip recommendation to remove line 6 & 7  Director Honeycutt also requested removing verbiage from line 6 and 7 from Policy 1.502, "...The press shall not bring a camera, camcorder or other photographic equipment to Board meetings without the consent of the Board." If you look at that policy, it was a policy since 2000 commented director Honeycutt. The TSBA policy referenced by Honeycutt was also approved last November 13, 2008. 

Two unrelated policies 6.317 and 6.709 student fees and fines were pulled from the agenda until further discussion and review by the school board.

Gary Ubben made a motion, which was seconded by Craig Simon to approve the policies as presented to the board except for policies for 6.317 and 6.709 with suggested changes to the other policies.

Before board member Van Shaver voted he asked, "Quick question; are all the camera ban discussions gone from every policy." "Yes" replied the school director's administrative assistant. Shaver voted "Aye," "I just wanted confirmation, brother" said Shaver.

When all the votes were tallied, voting Aye were school board members Lisa Russell, Bobby Johnson, JR., Larry Proaps, Craig Simon, Van Shaver, Scott Newman and Leroy Tate. Board member Bill Marcus left early and he did not vote. Absent was Steve Harrelson.

New Board Chair Scott Newman suggested forming a Policy Committee, which will be discussed at the next workshop meeting.


Thank you school board members!