Champaign County district to pay $15K after WHIO barred from recording


A Champaign County school district has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Cox Media Group Ohio after WHIO-TV was prevented from recording video of a public meeting in October.

The Triad Local Schools board of education approved the settlement agreement that will require the district to pay $15,000 to Cox, which also operates the Springfield News-Sun and Dayton Daily News.

RELATED: BETHANY’S STORY: Parent’s say suicide of 11-year-old girl part of bullying epidemic

Cox’s complaint alleged violations of Ohio’s Open Meetings Act for failure to allow WHIO to record a public school board meeting on Oct. 24. WHIO planned to cover the school board meeting after 11-year-old Bethany Thompson had killed herself. Her parents alleged she killed herself because of constant bullying at the district’s middle school.

Community members told Cox Media Group that they planned to voice concerns about bullying at the school and the media outlet wanted to document the meeting.

When the news crew arrived at the board meeting, a reporter and videographer were told cameras wouldn’t be allowed, despite it being a public meeting. The crew was informed by Triad Superintendent Chris Piper that media had to contact the school before the meeting to request permission to bring cameras into the board meeting.

Cox Media Group alleged that was a violation of the Open Meetings Act, a law designed to ensure transparency in government and public entities.

Piper didn’t return a phone message seeking comment on Wednesday.

“We are thrilled with the outcome of this case,” said attorney Erin Rhinehart, who represented Cox. “Our client is committed to ensuring government transparency, and we are hopeful that our efforts here will remind others of the importance of complying with Ohio’s open meetings laws.”

WHIO News Director David Bennallack said WHIO will continue to report the news and fight for public transparency.

“This was a sad story and naturally of great concern to the community,” Bennallack said. “Parents asked us to attend the meeting to ensure that their concerns were being heard, and to record and report on the district’s response. It’s unfortunate that we were forced into litigation to prevent this from happening again, but we trust that this issue is now behind us and that the public will be allowed to see what happens in Triad’s future meetings.”




Next Up in Crime

Amazon HQ2: New York, Virginia picked for additional headquarters, reports say
Amazon HQ2: New York, Virginia picked for additional headquarters, reports say

The New York City and Washington, D.C., metro areas are splitting Amazon’s planned second headquarters project, according to a Wall Street Journal report Monday night. The official announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday, the media outlet said, citing unnamed “people familiar with the matter.” Politico published a similar...
Study: DPS should focus on high-performing schools
Study: DPS should focus on high-performing schools

Too few Ohio students are on track to be college- or career-ready when they graduate high school, and the state’s largest urban districts, such as Dayton Public Schools, lag even further in student achievement. That’s according to a Thomas B. Fordham Institute study released Tuesday suggesting DPS and other large districts should focus...
Youth in Ohio foster care face more placements, barriers to adulthood
Youth in Ohio foster care face more placements, barriers to adulthood

Youth age 14 and older in Ohio’s child wefare system experience more foster placements — which can be disruptive and traumatic — than those in other states, a new report shows. Compared to a nationwide average, those in Ohio are 8 percent more likely to be moved more frequently, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation report released...
Champaign County Pet of the Week
Champaign County Pet of the Week

Gus is a 4-month-old male kitten. He is friendly; however, he is a bit on the cautious side. Gus loves being petted and held, but noises and fast movement can scare him. He would probably do better in a home that is on the low activity side. Gus has been neutered, is up to date on vaccinations and has tested negative for feline leukemia. Come spend...
Opinion: President Trump 2.0: No more ‘Crazy Maxine’?

Did anyone expect at least a hint of humility from President Donald Trump after Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives? If so, they don’t know our transactional president. Almost lost in his occasionally hostile exchanges with reporters Wednesday at his first news conference after the midterms was the olive branch he offered to...
More Stories