NO CAMERA BAN
Click to view video clip -
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.
school board comfortable with camera at meetings
Knox won't join camera-shy school
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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!