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Dr. Chargois promises equal access to journalist kept out of Q & A session with attorney
BEAUMONT - KFDM News has learned the Beaumont school superintendent is promising equal access to a journalist who was kept out of a question and answer session August 1 at the BISD administration building.
Board member Mike Neil tried to go inside a room where the attorney was answering reporters' questions. Neil wanted to know why Jerry Jordan of SET Investigates was kept out of the session. Jessie Haynes, the Special Assistant to the Superintendent for Communications, blocked the door and became involved in an altercation with Neil. Dr. Timothy Chargois, the BISD superintendent, placed Haynes on paid adminstrative leave while the district investigates.
David Vann De Cordova, Jr., an attorney representing Neil and Jordan, tells KFDM News he wrote a letter August 9 to the superintendent, in which the attorney said the district would face a federal lawsuit if Jordan weren't assured equal access to news events.
De Cordova sent us a copy of the response he recently received from Dr. Chargois:
Dear Mr. de Cordova:
I am in receipt of your letter dated August 9, 2013 regarding Mr. Jordan and his ability to receive notice of press conferences held by BISD.
I have instructed BISDs Communications Department to develop procedures and policies that will address the concern that members of the media have access equally to all "press events" and media releases.
Mr. Jordan will be afforded the same opportunity as other members of the media, as required under the law and board policies.
De Cordova sent an email to Dr. Chargois in which he thanked him for the response and offered this comment:
"And, sincerely, I commend you for doing the right thing, that is, acting solely and objectively in the best interests of BISD."
De Cordova released the following statement Thursday to KFDM News:
"Ironically, on the very day Jerry Jordan is in Chicago receiving a national press award, I received written assurance from BISD Superintendent Chargois that BISD's Communication's Department would begin treating Mr. Jordan equally with other members of the press as required by the 1st Amendment. My client is very satisfied the outcome, and we are grateful for the present leadership shown by the Superintendent. Our only regret is that the Superintendent did not act sooner to reign in the "loose cannon" -- Ms. Jessie Haynes. Had he done so, perhaps some of the problems caused by Ms. Haynes at the August 1, 2013, Board meeting would not have occurred."