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Is BISD attempting to muzzle the media?
BEAUMONT-BY: Jennifer Gordy
Is the Beaumont School District trying to muzzle the media? Some journalists and outsiders say, "yes." During a news conference last week to respond to a blistering state report accusing the superintendent and board of not properly managing the district's finances, the district forced journalists to turn in written questions ahead of time.
At the press conference, Dr. Timothy Chargois, BISD Superintendent, said, "We are not hiding anything and we intend to be transparent"
Chargois was delivering the district's response to a preliminary Texas Education Agency report that blasts the district's financial management.
But, he would only respond to the media after reporters put their questions in writing.
Political scientist Dr. Bruce Drury says, "When you can only get the board president or superintendent to respond to written questions, and then they can select which questions they wish to respond to, that very much limits the public's knowledge of what's going on in the district."
And, to make matters more difficult for the media, Dr. Chargois held the news conference before the district released its official response to the T.E.A. Dr. Drury says, "If you hold a press conference before the report is released, then it deprives the media from being able to look at the report, see what's there, and what questions are there." Not only that, Drury says it limits the ability to reporters to ask follow up questions. The practice doesn't sit well with internet journalist Jerry Jordan. He asked why the media has to submit written questions and exclaimed, "It's a press conference."
KFDM tried to talk with Dr. Chargois or Communications Specialist Nakisha Myles today, but failed in our efforts. Our goal: to hold the district accountable for its actions. Drury adds, "The relationship between the media and the administration is never going to be friendly but it should be one of openness, transparency, and respect.