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02-06-03: More info sought before tapes go in library
St. Marys library board considers storing school board meeting recordings

The Daily Standard

    ST. MARYS - St. Marys Community Public Library board members on Wednesday requested a written proposal from a community group that wants to make video tapes of school board meetings available to the public at the library.
    "We would like a written proposal. How it will be taped, who will have property of the tapes, if their will be time limits?" library board President Don Glaser told Roughrider Focus Group secretary Sandy Dove.
    Dove said the group plans to tape the meetings at their own cost and wants to put the tapes on a shelf at the library.
    "Celina (City Schools) has been doing it for 12 years," Dove told the library board about taping school board meetings. "People that have been doing that (taping the Celina meetings) have said they are willing to assist our group in any way they can. It is another way of informing the public."
    The board did not make an immediate decision, asking that a written proposal be submitted to the board outlaying how the meetings will be taped.
    The community group, which had been meeting sparingly since October 2001, recently decided to become an official non-profit organization. The group formed after hearing concerns about disciplinary actions and administrative decisions in the school system during the last 15 months.
    Library board member Darwin Zeigler said he had several concerns about the tapes being on tap at the library.
    "We want to make sure it is a complete accurate report," Zeigler said. "Everything should be fair and accurate. We don't want things that might slander somebody."
    Zeigler also said he felt public comments could not be on the tapes.
    However, Mark Gribben of Attorney General Jim Petro's office said Ohio Sunshine Laws outline that audio and video recording of public sessions may not be prohibited.
    The school board would only be able to establish reasonable rules, 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, he said.
    "I don't see any rationale in wanting to prevent the public comments (from being on the tape)," Gribben said. "The comments are open public record. If they want a fair, accurate record, they should allow the whole meeting to be taped ... It cannot be a fair, accurate report when pieces are left out."
    Zeigler also said he was concerned about the group taping the meetings and not an outside source. But Gribben said he feels there is nothing preventing the group from doing so.
    "They (the focus group) are a media source just like a newspaper or a radio station," Gribben said. "I cannot see what the problem would be, no matter who taped it."
    Dove said the group plans to have a written proposal submitted to the library board for approval before their next meeting March 5.
    The Roughrider Focus Group announced they would tape the school board meetings for the public after the school board rejected a suggestion to air the meetings on the local access cable station. School board members said it would be too costly for the school to do the taping itself.
    "A lot of people cannot get to the meetings," Dove said. "We want to make the meetings accessible to anyone who wants to view them."


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