Hanover school district’s ban on cameras at demotion hearing a ‘gray area’ in public access

Whether cameras should have been allowed at a demotion hearing for a Hanover school district principal comes down to whether the hearing met the definition of being public. A Hanover school board member shoved a camera into a wall at the recent hearing because the district’s lawyer had decided cameras weren’t allowed. (They are allowed at other public meetings).

Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, told the (Hanover) Evening Sun that even though there was a quorum of board members present, it’s possible the meeting might not have been public under the Sunshine Act, which allows people to record public meetings. There was no deliberation and no votes taken, Melewsky said, which are hallmarks of a public meeting.

Read more about what happened at the meeting and how the open meetings act might apply to the district’s decision to ban cameras.

 

About Scott Blanchard

Sunday editor at the York (Pa.) Daily Record/Sunday News. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.
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One Response to Hanover school district’s ban on cameras at demotion hearing a ‘gray area’ in public access

  1. Cindy Jendras says:

    Scott – this is not the only concern regarding this case. This was an open meeting requested by Samuelsen yet the public was not notified that this open meeting was scheduled. When I questioned Board President Lingg (the person who assaulted the camera crew) the answer I received was as follows: “The meeting that is in question is not a Regular Board Meeting, nor is it a Planning Meeting of the Board, it is a personnel hearing that an employee has requested to be open to the public. A hearing of this nature does not need to be advertised ahead of time.” In addition, I tried to purchase a copy of the first meeting transcript which is available because they were handed out during the second day meeting (which I did attend – all 12 hours of it). The response I received from Troy Wentz, Secretary of the Board and Open Records Officer- “The district requires an extension of time of up to thirty (30) calendar days to respond to your request because a legal review is necessary. Not posting the meeting was taking place is a clear violation of the Sunshine Law. What this means to me is that the board and their counsel will be able to make a decision without the public being made aware of what transpired, aside from the media coverage. I believe that as a member of the taxpaying community I have that right. Once Samuelsen requested, and received, an open meeting it was suppose to be announced. I would like to know what you think and what, if any, avenues are available to pursue this matter.

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