District 15 board will not air public comments

by Tammy Sakry
Staff Writer

The St. Francis School District 15 School Board will continue not recording the consideration of visitors segment of its meetings.

During the Jan. 23 meeting, the board, which has three new members, discussed whether it should record the consideration of visitors on video, but liability concerns made most of the board reject the idea.

The possibility of airing the segment was introduced by Chairperson Marsha Van DenBurgh.

Sometimes the consideration of visitors is a huge part of the meeting and by not airing it, the board is not being as transparent as it could be, she said.

Airing consideration of visitors is something the School Board Association strongly advises against because of the liability issues and it is the reason many school boards do not air that segment, said Boardmember Amy Kelly.

One of the potential issues with airing the public comments is data privacy, said Superintendent Ed Saxton.

Once the visitor says the name of an employee, it could make the school district liable for any data privacy violations the visitor commits, he said.

Although the person committing the violation would be liable, attorneys could go after the deeper pockets of the school district, said Human Resources Director David Lindberg.

While the consideration of visitor forms each speaker fills out before being allowed at the podium states what can and can not be talked about, lawyers like those forms because by having them, the district admits to knowing there was a violation risk, he said.

Among the options discussed to counteract any liability issues is to delay the airing the meeting until the tape could be edited to remove any data privacy violations or the chairperson doing a summary of the segment later in meeting so it is recorded.

Editing the tape will take time and resources, Lindberg said.

Boardmember Harry Grams said he is comfortable with the summary but does not feel comfortable with streaming the comments.

Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]