By Charles Lefebvre on September 21, 2016.
Medicine Hat School District 76 has voted to no longer allow recording of its board meetings from non-media personnel.
Board chair Terry Riley made the motion during a review of district policy at the meeting, adding the motion to Policy 203, which governs regular board meetings.
Riley’s motion, carried unanimously 4-0 (trustee Rick Massini was absent), states: “There shall be no video or audio recording of meetings, except by professional news agencies who are accredited members of the Alberta Press Council, unless expressly authorized by the board.”
Riley, who said it was unusual for a chair to make an amendment, said his rationale for the motion was videos of previous meetings that have been recorded and uploaded online, which he says have been “altered and edited without the authority of the board.”
Riley noted he was in attendance at a parliamentary procedure workshop in Lethbridge a week ago, saying it was made clear at the workshop that any legislative body, whether it was the House of Commons, the Legislative Assembly, city councils or school boards, has the authority under the law to restrict recording in a meeting.
Jeremy Williamson, a parent who was in attendance at the meeting and recording it (he was allowed to record the remainder of the meeting once the motion was passed), said he was curious about the board’s decision.
“It’s a public meeting, a public board, discussing policies that affect our children and future generations, and I’m curious as to why they don’t want people to record,” he said.
Williamson has recorded previous board meetings starting this past March, when SD76 passed draft policies to ensure supportive environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students.
“I had told the chair of the board that I was going to record for posterity, and toward the end of the meeting, after the presentations were made, I was told I couldn’t record due to FOIP violations,” he said of the meeting.
Williamson also said on one of the recordings, parents were promised a town hall meeting about the guidelines by SD76, which he says has not happened yet.
Williamson says he was recording the meeting Tuesday “because I’m wondering why there is such animosity towards open communication between the parents and the board.”
Williamson also disagreed with the comment from Riley that the videos were edited, saying raw video of the meetings were uploaded.
Trustee Deborah Forbes added the “expressly authorized by the board” portion of the amendment to include schools and parents who were hoping to record the meeting for education purposes, or if a child received an award from the board, for example.
New school name announced
SD76’s future elementary school in Ranchlands has a name.
The board unanimously voted during the meeting to name the new school the Dr. Ken Sauer School, after the longtime educator and former superintendent of SD76.
“I know Dr. Sauer so well, and I know he gives so much to our district, but honestly, that he’s here to know that this is happening for him, it really affected me,” said trustee Catherine Wilson Fraser during the meeting.
The school, which will be located at 20 Terrace Dr. NE, will have its sod-turning ceremony on Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. The school is scheduled to open next September.
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