GOSHEN, Ind. — Video of the Goshen Community Schools’ board meeting is back on YouTube following a story published by REAL News Michiana about Superintendent Steve Hope refusing to allow RNM record audio of the meeting. RNM was told we could get the audio from the district’s YouTube channel, only to find that the video had been removed from the channel last night. You can read that story here.
RNM took screenshots of the district’s channel. The first screenshot was taken after the meeting just before 10:00pm Monday. The second screenshot was taken just before 7:30pm on Tuesday.
RNM sent the following email to Hope regarding the incident, but as of publication, has not heard back.
I see the video of the school board meeting is back on the school district’s YouTube channel. Why was it taken down to begin with? And, why was it put back up?
REAL News Michiana
Hope prevented REAL News Michiana from independently recording audio at their public meeting Monday night, telling RNM’s Clifton French, “No mics!”
The meeting was contentious with many people in attendance planning to speak for and against a 6th grade teacher who organized a drag show for children at a public park pool this summer. RNM broke the story about the drag show and its organizer the day before the event was scheduled. After RNM published a story regarding the event, the Goshen LGBTQ Pride organization publicly announced they had cancelled the drag show for kids, which you can read about here. Superintendent Hope is on the record defending the teacher. You can read that story here.
Only minutes after denying RNM the ability to record audio, Hope made a statement that seemed to pick a side in the room. Despite RNM not hearing a single person attack the LGBTQ community or their rights and simply describe concern about a middle school teacher organizing a drag show for kids, Hope seemed to indicate the LGBTQ community was under attack.
“I want to start with a special message for the LGBTQ community.” Hope said. “Goshen schools will be open to all.” The quote is being written from RNM’s notes since we were not allowed to independently allowed to record audio and could be off by a few words.
In his nearly 15 years of news coverage, Clifton has never not been allowed to place a microphone in an area that would allow him to pick up public and official comment during a public meeting. In Florida for example, where recording is allowed in courtrooms, Clifton has been consistently allowed to place microphones on the witness stand. Clifton was also allowed to take multiple cameras and audio recording devices to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba when covering stories there.
The board did change the venue of this meeting the day before it was scheduled to occur. The meeting was moved from the administration center at 613 E. Purl Street to the new Goshen Intermediate School on Greene Rd.
RNM’s Clifton French arrived at the meeting 45 minutes early to set up. As he arrived, staff members were still setting up the new venue. RNM asked if there was going to be a podium for microphone placement, the staff member said the podium was left at the other venue. RNM explained we could place the small microphone on a table near the public comment area and superintendent, but Superintendent Steve Hope told his staff and RNM “no mics” were allowed.
RNM did manage to physically mic up one of the citizens prior to his turn during public comment. That was the only clean audio obtained.
Clifton French immediately contacted RNM’s attorney. All legal options are currently being explored.
Hope has been the Superintendent at Goshen Community Schools since last year. He was previously the Assistant Superintendent. He spent 22 years in the Penn Harris Madison school district prior to that. He was the principal at Penn High School for 11 years before heading to Goshen in 2017.
You did not need any board members’ consent to record a public meeting. Here’s the Indiana statute:
“Except as provided in section 6.1 of this chapter, all meetings of the governing bodies of public agencies must be open at all times for the purpose of permitting members of the public to observe and record them.” I.C. 5-14-1.5-3 (a)
We won this battle with the Middlebury school board. Tyrants gonna tyrant unless we know our rights.
Blessings for all you do!