By Brian Massie, average citizen / September 21. 2022
Updated September 21, 2022 5:24 pm
Updated September 21, 2022 4:00 pm
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”.
We are starting to see a pattern with many school boards. Price seniors out of their home with ever-increasing property taxes, con the taxpayers into accepting students achieving 70% proficiency scores, and then eliminate transparency by violating the public meeting act so taxpayers will not really know what is happening in the schools.
Note to school superintendents and leftist school board members. Your days of abusing the taxpayers are OVER!
We received the following message:
“The 5 Mentor Board members, superintendent and treasurer will be joined by a representative from the Ohio School Board to review policy and recent events that have occurred in the schools tomorrow at 5:30 PM at the Paradigm Building (6477 Center St, adjacent to MHS). This meeting is open to the public but there is NO opportunity for the public to speak. We apologize for the short notice. All board meetings are to be posted on the website no later than 24 hours prior. So far, at 3:15 this “retreat” has NOT been posted. A phone call was made to Superintendent Heath’s secretary to confirm the details of this meeting. Please try to attend for even a portion if you can.”
So with camera in hand I went to the Paradigm building and set up, waiting for the meeting to start. Before the meeting started, I noticed three people leave the meeting area for a sidebar conversation in an adjacent hallway, outside of the view and hearing of the public.
Mary Byner, President of the School Board, joined Craig Heath, Superintendent, and Bill Wade, Treasurer, for a secret clandestine meeting to discuss what they saw in the audience. And what did they see – ME!
When they returned to the public view, Mr. Heath immediately approach me in the back of the room and stated that their board policy does not permit avideo recording of the meeting.
I stated that transparency is the key to good governance, but that was of no concern to this new superintendent. As I departed the meeting room, I waved at Mr. Wade and said that I will be exposing everyone. I know Mr. Wade from his days as the Superintendent of Kirtland Local Schools.
Before I left the parking lot, I spoke to legal counsel and was asked if I had it recorded that Mr. Heath banned me from using my camera to record the meeting. I indicated that I did not, so I decided to go back into the meeting and ensure that I had the proof, if ever needed.
I politely interrupted the meeting and asked Mr. Heath to confirm for everyone to hear that he did, in fact, prevent me from taking a video recording of the public meeting. When he confirmed, I then asked the audience if they had heard what he said. The audience acknowledged that they had heard Mr. Heath.
I later was told that another member of the audience started recording the meeting on her cell phone. When she was asked to stop recording, she declined. The Board halted the meeting and went to speak in Executive Session. When they returned to the meeting they cancelled the meeting.
Updated September 22, 2022 5:24 pm
The Mentor Superintendent and the entire School Board may need to brush up on the Ohio Sunshine Laws, and also read Ohio School Boards Association’s fact sheets.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost Ohio Sunshine Laws 2022: An Open Government Resource Manual Page 111
- Audio and video recording
A public body cannot prohibit the public from audio or video recording a public meeting.1030
A public body may, however, establish reasonable rules regulating the use of recording equipment, such as requiring equipment to be silent, unobtrusive, self-contained, and self-powered to limit interference with the ability of others to hear, see, and participate in the meeting.1031
1030 McVey v. Carthage Twp. Trustees, 4th Dist. Athens No. 04CA44, 2005-Ohio-2869, ¶¶ 14-15 (finding trustees violated R.C. 121.22 by banning videotaping).
1031 Kline v. Davis, 4th Dist. Lawrence Nos. 00CA32, 01CA13, 2001-Ohio-2625 (finding blanket prohibition on recording a public meeting not permissible); 1988 Ohio Attty.Gen.Ops. No. 087 (opining that trustees have authority to adopt reasonable rules for use of recording equipment at their meetings); see also Mahajan v. State Med. Bd. of Ohio, 10th Dist. Franklin Nos. 11AP-421, 11AP-422, 2011-Ohio-6728 (holding that, when rule allowed board to designate reasonable location for placement of recording equipment, requiring appellant’s court reporter to move to the back of the room was reasonable, given the need to transact board business).
Look at the first item on page 3 of the Ohio Public Schools Association’s fact sheet regarding “Can the board of education prohibit the public from recording board meetings?”
Updated September 23, 2022 at 4:00 pm
Here is a page from the Mentor School Board policy manual. They do not permitted to have a policy that is contrary to the Ohio Revised Code, and the OSBA rules.
Tsk, tsk Superintendent Craig Heath, first it was your “Don’t tell Mom, it will be our little secret” pronoun policy, and now you violate the Ohio Public Meetings Act. You are off to a very shaky, inauspicious start!
When I heard that this was to be a “retreat”, I did not think it meant the board and administration would be retreating from the public view.
Taxpayers demand transparency!