Saying the document "seems to be aimed at protecting the school district and superintendent at the price of free speech," the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists released a statement denouncing the so-called agreement between Knox Co. Schools Superintendent and the Board of Education regarding dealings with the media, among other things. Full statement after the break...
East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists disappointed in BOE-superintendent document
ETSPJ board members were surprised and disappointed after learning about the document "Agreements between the BOE and Superintendent" given to newly elected board members.
That school district document seems to be aimed at protecting the school district and superintendent at the price of free speech. We strongly oppose the suggestion by the so-called agreement that board members refrain from public discussions, especially to the media, if they vote in the minority of any particular issue.
We will be sending a letter to Superintendent Jim McIntyre and school board members. Now more than ever, we will be asking our journalist members, and the public, to seek comments from board members when they vote in the minority of any particular issue. We plan to be ask the superintendent and board members to speak publicly on this issue and request a resolution encouraging the board have an open and transparent working relationship with the media without any limitations on their speech.
We applaud Amber Roundtree's effort to seek the legality of the document from the county’s law department, and we support David Buuck's conclusions. We agree the document is unenforceable and that items in it “limit Board Members' freedom of speech, as well as their responsibility to speak openly and freely on all school issues.”
About the chapter: The East Tennessee Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has more than 50 members in Knoxville. The executive board consists of journalists, journalism educators and supporters representing the print, radio, TV and online platforms. Executive board members include President Mike Martinez, UT journalism professor and 26-year journalist and Vice President Dan Andrews, a photojournalist with the Knoxville Focus. Other members include Treasurer Jean Ash, Secretary Elenora Edwards, Norman Hammitt, Frank Murphy, Mark Harmon, Anthony Cespedes, Kristi L. Nelson, Georgiana Vines and Tony Hernandez
Full disclosure: Vines, an ex-officio member and past national president, and Nelson and Hernandez report for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Hernandez also belongs to SPJ's national board of directors.
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