The Diamond R-4 School District proved their disdain of the law Wednesday night when four members of area media outlets were not allowed into a school board session, although other members of the public were.
Diamond Superintendent Trish Wilson barred members of the Neosho Daily News, Newton County News and the Joplin Globe from entering what the board deemed a "closed session," although nearly 40 other members of the public were allowed to sit in on the meeting.
This is unacceptable, and we intend to make a formal request to the Missouri Attorney General's office to investigate this Sunshine Law violation.
Reporters are members of the public and if the public is allowed to be in a meeting, then journalists should be as well. Journalists represent the people who cannot attend a meeting for any reason, whether they had to work, or are a shut-in, or had to stay home to care for a loved one. To allow one segment of the public into a meeting, and not another, is to deny those who could not attend the meeting to know what's transpired. In effect, it makes one group second class citizens.
After the meeting, Wilson offered no explanation as to what transpired in the session or why reporters were barred. All she said was "no comment." Meanwhile, at least one board member was spotted leaving the administration building via the back door.
Again, not acceptable.
We have been told there was an agenda by Diamond school board members regarding these coaching decisions. Diamond officials could have used this opportunity to address that rumor. Instead, they chose to literally duck out the back door, leaving the public with nothing to dispute that claim.