Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cheatham County BOE Watches the Watchers

I've just learned of a blog called Cheatham County School Board Watchdogs. I'm happy to see more parents and citizens paying attention to their local schools and communicating about what's going on. Welcome to the party!

The blog's first post is dated just weeks ago and already they've gotten the attention of the Cheatham County BOE which has had legal counsel demand certain retractions. The eight page letter also criticizes their anonynimity and calls them hypocrites and less than responsible citizens. I'm all for correcting factual errors and the lawyers make it clear the anonymous blog is a legitimate free speech outlet but it's interesting to me that the Cheatham County BOE would go to such lengths so quickly when a simple comment on the offending blog post could have done the same. The letter promises that the BOE will continue to monitor the blog for 'mischaracterizations, falsehoods and defametory statements'. Apparently, it didn't take long for these folks to ruffle a few feathers.

I'm not a fan of anonymous blogging but I completely understand the need for aninonimity in these cases. Retribution is a concern of parents when they attempt to speak up and make changes in the system or report abuses of the system. The smaller the system, the more entrenched the players, the more swiftly that retribution can be visited upon families.

I expect that during this first year these parents will learn a lot about what can and should be said on a blog vs. what can be discussed over the backyard fence. However, the initial misteps should in no way deter them from continuing to provide factual information on what is going on in their public schools. I would encourage them to find a way to include audio/video clips of meetings as well as transcripts where possible. People are busy now days and providing them a heads up will be a very valuable service to their community.

If you're intersted in what's going on in Cheatham County...subscribe to their Watchdog blog and provide additional information and opinion when you can.


Watchdog said...

Thank you for letting people know about our blog. We welcome anyones advice and assistance in any issues seen on our blog.

David said...

I need an invitation to join this site. Can you help so i can join in on the comments. I have an account with google but it said that i have to be invited to join in. How can that happen?

Kay Brooks said...

Yes. Blogs can be invitation only. I haven't had a chance to check into the trouble up there since this RSS feed for the blog showed:

"We are Sorry
from Cheatham County School Board Watchdogs by Watchdog
We understand that this website was on the agenda at tonight's BOE workshop. We also understand that more tax paying dollars will be spent soon to send us a letter from an attorney obtained by the Director. We also understand that the Director is demanding to know all who are involved in this website. Who knew that our website would be shown at the meeting. I would ask the Director and all..."

And now, since the site is private I can't access the rest of the entry. Some serious CYA seems to be occurring at the Clarksville BOE. I hope you guys get to the bottom of it.

Watchdog said...

Dear Kay and all,
Thank you for all your help. We have been notified that the Director has contacted an attorney to send another letter to the our site. We are having people review our site to insure that we have not overstepped our First Admendments rights. As soon as we get clearance we will let you all know.
Thank you again.

Kay Brooks said...

Thanks for the update, Watchdog.

My suggestion is you head over to the Media Bloggers Association. They know First Amendment and blogging. a