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Tuesday, August 12, 2003 12:00:00 AM - Monroe Ohio
MONROE HS MEDIA CENTER - "Journal" reporter Susan Willoughby-Crawford was present at the meeting where the school board approved a consent decree between the school district and the Middletown Journal and Monroe Times. The Vote was 3 to 2 in favor of the the agreement to provide records on Friday rather than Monday.

Photo: Susan Willoughby-Crawford chats with Monroe High School Principal Bob Leahy while others talk after board meeting.

The "Journal" alleges that the Monroe School District withholds information from the newspaper. The real issue is timing rather than withholding. Certainly no information was withheld from the Journal. The district had requested to provide the information on Monday rather than Friday. This would allow board members to make changes prior to the Monday meeting.

The "Journal" publication gives an impression that a violation in Ohio Open Records occurred in the district. FACT: the "Journal" did have access to the Monroe School Board Meeting Agenda (Reports) several hours prior to the school board meeting on Monday.

Additionally, the "Journal" quoted board members who were in favor of 'settling with the journal.' When in fact, the majority of administration and 2 board members felt it would be 'too expensive to prove the district is right on this timing issue.' Monroe School Board Member, Suzi Rubin, who spearheaded the split from Middletown Schools, was one of the dissenting voters who felt the 'immediate' was not reasonable.

Carol Brotherton was vocal on the side agreeing with the newspaper.

There are 2 sides to most stories. The Journal reports one side, you have to find out the other side yourself.

The Journal cost the taxpayers of Monroe over $50k in fees fighting the 'timing issue' when it could have accepted the agenda when the district had finalized the data on Monday. Thanks for the help MJ!

John Beagle
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