May 26, 2020

May 26, 2020

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Can Citizen Record Board of Education Meetings?

It’s not uncommon for a citizen to attend a regular or special board of education meeting with a video recording device. Although the board is often recording the meeting in some fashion, the question often arises as to whether a citizen can also record. For example, is the board’s recording the “official recording,” therefore preventing a citizen from recording as well? This issue often leads to confrontational situations with citizens that could be avoided. For example, see this video of a recent county commission meeting where the commissioner’s counsel attempted to prevent a citizen from recording.

The West Virginia Ethics Commission has long opinioned the public has the right to record public meetings. These opinions are based upon the clear language set forth in the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act (Act).

As the Ethics Commission has opined:

The Act gives . . . the public the right to record the open sessions of public meetings. A government body [such as a board of education] may not prohibit recording, and may regulate the placement and use of recording equipment only to the extent necessary ‘to prevent undue interference with a meeting.’ The fact that the [governing body] or citizens object to having their public comments recorded does not deprive the media and the public of their rights to record the proceedings, and is not a factor to be considered in determining the that the use of recording equipment is causing under interference with a meeting.

For some additional tips regarding the Act see Quick Reference Guide for the WV Open Meeting Act (County Boards of Education).

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About this Author

Jason Long, education law practice chair, Dinsmore Lewisburg Office

Jason Long is a Partner in the firm’s Lewisburg office, is the Chair of the Education Law Practice Group and a member of the Labor and Employment Practice Group. Jason's practice concentrates on two areas of law that are quite diverse from each other. The first area of Jason’s practice originates from his pre-lawyer days as an educator as well as growing up as the son of a county school superintendent. Jason focuses on representation of numerous county boards of education in the firm’s Educational Law Practice Group, providing a wide range of services, including, but not...

Denise M. Spatafore, Dinsmore Shohl, Education Law, Administrative Law Judge
Of Counsel

Denise Spatafore is a member of the Labor and Employment Department. She focuses her practice on education law. Prior to joining the firm, Denise served as the Supervisor of Personnel for the Harrison County Board of Education. As the administrator in charge, she led the personnel department of a school system with approximately 2,000 employees, providing both human resources management and legal services. Earlier in her career, Denise served as an Administrative Law Judge for the West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board.