Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Press Release - Filmmaker to Address IPS Board Meeting Tonight

Contact: Steve Gunn, communications director
Phone: (231) 903-5585

Filmmaker to address IPS
board meeting tonight
EAGF VP will address school staff actions, Public Access complaint

MUSKEGON, Mich. - Kyle Olson, vice president of the Education Action Group Foundation, will address the Indianapolis school board tonight regarding the legally-questionable eviction of an EAGF film crew from a school board budget meeting on March 24.

Tonight’s school board meeting is at 7 p.m. at the school district administration building.

EAGF, a Michigan-based 501(c)(3) non-profit, is currently producing a feature-length documentary film on American public education, focusing on Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Our film crew, comprised of Olson and videographer Don VanderKooi, was attending the March 24 IPS public budget meeting as part of that project.

Unfortunately our crew was only able to attend about 40 minutes of the meeting, because School and Community Relations Director Mary Louise Bewley suddenly ordered them to leave, with police escort, claiming they were there for "disingenuous reasons." Other members of the audience, including at least one working reporter, were allowed to stay.

The entire episode was captured on film and is available on YouTube here.

After the incident, Olson filed a formal complaint with the Office of Public Access Counselor, citing the denial of our right to attend a publicly advertised meeting. A copy of the complaint can be found here.

Olson plans to call for more transparency and will seek to obtain the opinions of the school board members on the situation.

He will be available for comment after the meeting.


Unknown said...

Paul, can you post the links to the materials they cite in their press release, I know you had the video up before, or maybe that was Abdul, anyway I would like to see the complaint.

Diana Vice said...

Can't wait to read about it.

Melyssa said...

The meeting is 7pm

120 E. Walnut

I talked to the guys with the not-for-profit doing the documentary that were kicked out.

They would really appreciate it if we were there.

Who is going? I'll be there.

Hoosier in the Heartland said...


Scott D said...

You can read the formal complaint here: http://eagfdn.org/documents/indycomplaint.pdf

M said...

Olson was clear and concise with his remarks. However, no one responded. White was up first and stated that they would not respond to the comments due to the "pending litigation". He then went on to talk about the Super Bowl in 2012, and Diane Arnold plugged her community center's salsa dancing event coming up.

Another highlight of the evening was Superintendent White trying to convince the board on the merits of buying tables at expensive charity dinners. "They take care of us; we should take care of them." Of course, he also said that these "investments" may have to get cut at some point ... but not until after cutting student education (teachers, arts courses, etc.).

Once again, the majority of the critical eye on dollars came from bookeeper-by-day Kelly Bentley. She was the only one to mount a serious challenge to White's requests for spending and cuts. Michael Cohen came in second place for taxpayer watchdog of the evening, and Diane Arnold third. (In my opinion.)

Special acknowledgement to commenter Melyssa for calling out Dr. White on his reluctant to cut spending in the right places and pay for those expensive gala tickets out of his $250k salary. (Even if it did earn some dirty looks from the board.)

Nights like this make me embarrassed to live in this town.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I don't have the materials, Indy.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I am not aware of any "pending litigation." Are they talking about the complaint to the public access counselor. That's not pending litigation.

Whenever you hear people hiding behind the "pending litigation" excuse please realize that is pure BS. There is no prohibition from speaking out on any issue even if it is in litigation, which this issue is not.

M said...

Yeah, I know he could have made a comment on it; the excuse was pretty lame. It was pretty obvious that his comments were directed at the board members - basically telling them not to talk.

What's even more disappointing is they all bowed down at his feet and didn't speak a peep, except to echo his praise for the Super Bowl stuff happening out at Tech High School.

Who works for who here?

Marycatherine Barton said...

Just now finding out about the agenda for the ed bd meeting tonight. Michael's account of it: unfreakingbelievable!! Thanks to Melyssa for her brilliant remark to White, speaking for all of the civilized.

Melyssa said...

I work in a 100% commission sales job that ultimately is used to help pay White's excessive bloated salary.

I am responsible to bring in my sales goal month in and month out.

If I fail, not only will I not make money, but I would not keep my job more than 6 months. I did confirm this fact with my boss this morning as I recounted the last night's board meeting details.

Why does Dr. White get paid an excessive salary for a pathetic performance?

After the meeting I asked what the graduation goal is at IPS.

No one knew.


Those poor kids.

M said...

Melyssa, it would be awesome if you were to file as a delegation before the next board meeting and use your 3 minutes to (respectfully, of course) ask those kind of questions. :-)

M Theory said...

So if I understand? I can prepare a statement and directly ask Dr. White what the graduation goals are for IPS?

Michael, maybe you and I should have a little meeting one evening and you could help prep me.

I feel bad in saying so, but I never got involved with school board stuff because I don't have kids. I didn't realize how much impact IPS has on my life until my property tax bills skyrocketed.

Let me know if you want to get together and figure out a plan for this.

I'm also interested in finding people who want to look into the massive charges each month from Citizens gas for "delivery and service" which they claim are for admin and line maintenance.

My bills for "service" can run as high as $155 month ON TOP OF the actual amount of natural gas I use.

In 12 years in my home, Citizen's Gas has never once had to touch my gas lines. Other utilties can deliver their product for less than what Citizen's delivery alone charge is.

If Citizen's is gunning (with the mayor) to take over our water utility too, we need some accountablility for these charges. No one knows anything when you call.

If you cannot pay their excessive delivery and service charges, they shut you off, charge a massive re-connect fee, and also a $150 deposit.

M said...

I don't know anything further than what is published in the by-laws: http://j.mp/ck3vXg

It seems like you can make statements and ask questions, but the Superintendent and Commissioner comments that follow aren't necessarily obliged to answer.

Good luck if you do! These are our elected officials and they are accountable to the voters.