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No easy answers available on videotaping H-F meetings

District 233 board members have been considering whether or not to videotape and post board meetings to social media and the district’s website.
 
At its Committee of the Whole meeting Jan. 29, board members said they have been studying the question but haven’t come to any resolution. It often seems that for every question that’s answered, another issue is raised, said board member Debbie Berman who serves on the board’s Planning Committee, where the issue of videotaping is being investigated.
 
Parent Christopher Sawyer has been asking for videotaping for months, saying it would help Homewood-Flossmoor High School area residents get a better understanding of what topics are before the board and how they are being addressed. Most parents don’t have time to come to board meetings, but they are interested and would be happy to have the meetings posted to YouTube where they could access them, he said.
 
While there is no legal mandate for videotaping, and H-F has a designated area for visitors to videotape from, District 233 would have greater responsibilities to students and parents than outsiders do, including:
 
  • How long would tapes need to be maintained, and by whom and in what format?
  • How expensive would this endeavor be?
  • Who would be responsible for tapings?
  • How can the district protect students whose parents have restricted H-F from video/audio recordings of their children?
  • What are the liabilities to the district?
  • How can the board address privacy issues?
     
Berman said she knows residents see it as a matter of transparency, but “my concerns are about protecting the school. There may be a way to work all those things out and that’s what we’ve been diligently trying to do.”
 
Darcy Kriha, one of the board’s attorneys, said she works with 50 districts and three of them videotape.
 
“It’s very much up to the board and it’s a decision for the board to make in its own judgment and based on its community and the people like Mr. Sawyer and others who are advocating,” she said.
 
Board members Beth Larocca and Annette Bannon asked that the issue be a priority.
 
Member Jody Scariano, who has been on the board for 18 years, said the board shouldn’t be rushed into a decision but rather consider all sides of the issue before coming to a commitment. She gave the example of the board’s three years of study before approving the Media, Visual and Performing Arts Academy in 2016.
 
“We have taken time with those decisions that were made in the past. I want to do that in the future. We have to be careful,” she stressed. “If I’m passing the baton and say you have to do it for years and years and this is what it’s going to cost and how you’re going to store it, etc. we have to be careful.

“It’s in your best interest, too, and your children’s and all the children that come through here,” she told Sawyer.
 

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