This is an open letter to school board president Sangeeta Ranade:
This week only two days before the school board meeting, you decided behind closed doors to ban the video taping of public comments without the collaboration of the entire school board and without any public input. School Board member Marilyn Roman publicly asked why weren’t the other board members consulted about this huge decision. You mentioned several folks told you they would be encouraged to speak publicly if there were no recording. And, you further stated, perhaps that is the reason for low turnout at board meetings. So then what is the reason for the low turnout when previous Superintendent Dr. Epps restricted videotaping? And whom exactly did you poll influencing you on your decision behind closed doors?
We, the public, want the video taping service reinstated because it is a matter of public record, safety and transparency. Numerous parents feel alleviated and more confident in speaking when they see their same issues being raised on TV or Internet. The news media, legislature, teachers’ unions, safety advocacy groups, community leaders, residents and other parents need access to this type of public record, whether it be any of the following: parents voicing their concern over lack of communication and protocol regarding a PS38 child bringing a loaded gun to school, the Teachers Union’s President speaking about district wide issues, students speaking out about not being heard. Everyone can’t attend these meetings. To restrict the community’s access is the old way of thinking.
We would like alternate solutions to your totalitarian decision of banning the recordings, similar to the decisions made by School Board Presidents Sterling Waterman and Sue Mack. One suggestion is to allow each speaker the option to be recorded or not.
The Parent Advocacy Group would like to invite everyone to the next school board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. to talk about what this means to him or her. One must call no later than 24 hours prior to the meeting and put his or her name down as a speaker by calling the Board Secretary at (201) 915-6074. Also email the NJ Joint Committee of Public Schools to include Amy Tibbets on your disapproval in Jersey City School Board President’s lack of transparency, safety disregard and banning of public record: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And lastly, we ask that people email, email@example.com or post their views on https://www.facebook.com/groups/parentadvocacy.
We will collaborate with others in advocating for the revision of the Sunshine Law, making it mandatory to record public meetings online, on community friendly media outlets and on email news blasts, not solely two newspapers.
Yours truly in service,
Parent Advocacy Group