Listen To This Article:

The Blackhawk Area School Board is demanding that BeaverCountian.com not publish video of its public meetings without asking for permission and waiting for the Board to vote its approval.

BeaverCountian.com has published the recording it made of last night’s Board meeting in direct violation of those requirements, believing them to be grossly unconstitutional.

As part of BeaverCountian.com’s efforts to make county and municipal meetings more widely accessible to the public, multimedia contributor Matthew LaComb attended Wednesday’s meeting of the Board. LaComb said he recorded the meeting without interference, but at its conclusion he was confronted by Board President Doug Schaefer and Solicitor Victor Kustra.

Kustra can be seen on the recording whispering in Schaefer’s ear before Schaefer addressed LaComb.

“The only question I have is are you with, I guess, the Beaver Countian,” Schaefer asked, looking at LaComb who was sitting in a chair provided for members of the public.

LaComb replied that he was.

“We just have a Board policy, it’s OK that you’re allowed to video tape the meeting, but I’m assuming you’re going to want to put it on your website,” said Schaefer, laughing.

“So in order to do that, you would just have to ask permission and then the School Board would have to vote. Because it would just be a violation of our policy.”

LaComb responded, “That policy, I believe, is a violation of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act.”

Solicitor Kustra then addressed LaComb, “What’s your basis for believing that is the case, because technically, school boards don’t have to video tape their meetings. That’s something that we have a policy in place that we’re offering that as a complement to the public.”

“But I have a right to film a public meeting,” replied LaComb.

The basic premise of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act is simple: when a governmental body convenes a meeting of a quorum of its members where “deliberations” or “official actions” are occurring, the public must be given advanced notice of the meeting and must be permitted to attend. Among the provisions included in the law is a mandate that the public be permitted to record the meeting.

Kustra shot back, “We’re not saying that you can’t film it, we’re saying that it has to be a Board vote in order to broadcast it beyond what you’re seeing right now.”

“All we’re asking is because of the current Board policy is for you to just ask for the right to rebroadcast and then we can vote on it at the next session,” explained Schaefer.

“And then if it’s approved, you can go ahead and post that.”

Countries including Iran, North Korea, and China require reporters to seek official governmental approval before publishing news, but the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees press freedoms and prohibits prior restraints on speech.

In following with BeaverCountian.com’s standard practices, LaComb then disengaged the Board and provided them with the phone number of BeaverCountian.com publisher John Paul.

BeaverCountian.com has published its video of last night’s meeting of the Blackhawk Area School Board — including the exchange with LaComb — which can be viewed here.

BeaverCountian.com multimedia contributor Matthew LaComb contributed to this report.

See Also:

BeaverCountian.com Contributor Refuses To Sign Baden Borough’s Paperwork Before Recording Public Meeting

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

9
Reader Comments

avatar
Photo and Image Files
 
 
 
Audio and Video Files
 
 
 
Other File Types
 
 
 
8 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
Howard Stern’s Favorite InterviewRicimerRavenmarshamooreconcerned Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest top voted
Notify of
Silence_Dogood
Member
Silence_Dogood

I hope they see this and try to do something about it. It’s hilarious to watch governmental bodies try to exert authority they don’t have and get slapped down. Go ahead. Waste the precious dollars you have trying to litigate this in court. Then, you can quickly get voted out of office when you come around and say, “oh… we need to raise property taxes because we don’t have enough money this year because we tried sue the Beaver Countian for trying to hold us accountable and we lost in epic fashion.”

John Q Taxpayer
Member
John Q Taxpayer

These fucking idiots don’t know the law, so they just make up their own rules and think it supersedes the law. Anything or any body, committee, commission, authority, group or whatever you want to call it, and is fully funded or partly subsidized with tax dollars is, in fact open to the public and can be attended by and recorded by the public. No matter if they like it or not.

Raven
Member
Raven

Chilling. Such a basic matter, and they are clueless about the Sunshine Law. Big Brother is alive and well. “Mother may I?” What happens if Mother doesn’t want it to be published? Ever? Maybe they should move the tables into the library’s Fiction section and out of the nonfiction area. And, they can change the wall spelling from “NonFiction” to Non-fiction or non-fiction or nonfiction or even Nonfiction, as well. Actually, given the authoritarian attempt at secrecy, maybe “Alternative Facts” on the wall would allow them the leeway with the law and public that they need, and they can say anything they want without any fears of accountability.

Wise Owl
Guest
Wise Owl

Need further proof that ALL politicians think they are above the law, local, county, state, federal all reek of corruption.

concerned
Guest
concerned

Is anybody concerned these are the people we elected to teach our children, (The future of this country), history, such as why we fought the revolutionary war, or Goy. and how the Government is suppose to be “of the people and for the people”? Do they even bother to mention the constitution anymore? We’ve taken God and prayer out of school, now let’s take the constitution out. Tomorrow we’ll focus on taking the parents rights away. It almost worked for Hitler with the “Hitler Youth”, Maybe it will work in BlackHawk this time.

marshamoore
Member
marshamoore

Very few school boards are full of educators. Most are comprised of high school graduates who rely on their life experience to vote. Every board member should have a copy of the Sunshine Act at their disposal. God and prayer are not applicable to all Americans, so it need not be in schools, but in a school club. It’s really disturbing that the solicitor, Kustra, doesn’t know any better.