“When they first put them up, there was a series of five tapes. One didn't play at all, another one just went blank. But the first thing I noticed when people started contacting me was the time on the tapes. They weren't right,” Graves said. “The running times from one tape to the other didn’t match up. There was a lag time of several minutes between tapes when they should have been running together. And there was no video at all of the end of the meeting when they read the superintendent’s evaluation. Clearly, the tape was altered.”
Her letter, titled “Public Record Tampering,” asked Board members to correct the problems with the video and pointed out that the recordings were protected from tampering by Kentucky law.
“The videoing of the board meeting is done with equipment purchased with public money. It is a recording of a public event. Therefore, it falls under the protection of the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives. Kentucky law states that tampering with a public record is a Class D felony. According to the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, punishment for being found guilty of a Class D felony is 1-5 years of imprisonment; fines of $1,000 to $10,000, or double the gain from the commission of the offense up to $20,000 for corporations. Despite our differences, there is not a single one of you I would want to see in jail. Please do not take it to that level. You need to correct this wrong and put online a video the public can view. In the future, make certain that the camera is always on when the board is in open session and that no one tampers with it.”
Several days after receiving the letter, Board Chairwoman Judy Hicks and Board attorney Henry Rosenthal responded by mail to Graves’ complaint saying that while there were technical issues with the video equipment during the June 19 meeting, the video had not intentionally been altered.
Hicks’ letter stated that the Board is not required to video or livestream the Board meetings; it is done so as a service to the community “as a method of providing transparency in our decisions.”
Her letter also stated, “The board room where the meetings take place is not a professional recording studio, and the videotaping equipment is considerably less expensive than that used in professional studios. While the board could approve the purchase of more expensive video recording equipment, we prefer to continue the priority of using our limited equipment funding in the classrooms of the schools in the district. We apologize for the equipment malfunction that was unforseen and unintentional.”
Rosenthal’s letter explained when the technical difficulties were discovered by school district employees and said the allegations of tampering were baseless. It also reiterated that the district is not required to video the meetings and could discontinue the video posting.
“A technical issue was experienced at the start of the meeting and the technology employee attempted, without success, to determine the problem during the meeting of June 19-20, 2012. The actual problem was discovered during normal working hours on June 20 and the recording has been improved as much as reasonably possible. Accusations of ‘Public Record Tampering’ are without merit,” Rosenthal’s letter stated.