Gadsden County parent hires company to stream school board meetings; board votes to start streaming directly

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 9:57 PM EDT
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GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) - After a previously failed vote and concerned parents speaking out, the Gadsden County Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to begin streaming its meetings online.

“It’s important to our parents and it’s important to our county,” said parent and former Gadsden County teacher Shaia Simmons. “I am grateful that our school district is moving in the right direction and doing the right thing.”

Last year, vice chair Karema Dudley said she tried bringing up the issue of streaming meetings, but she could not get enough support to get it on the agenda.

When the board eventually discussed the matter, the vote failed 2-3 in December. “We’ve had the technology to livestream meetings for a while,” said Dudley. “The issue was getting a vote from the board, so the technology is there; we’re ready to go.”

Simmons began streaming the meetings through Facebook in January after the failed vote. Most recently, she hired a media company to stream the meetings for parents who can’t make it.

“Hiring someone was just to make sure that it was high quality, and that we could get as many people on board to be involved in the transactions of our school district as possible,” said Simmons.

Tuesday night’s meeting was the first to be streamed by the third-party company - the same meeting in which the board voted to start streaming directly. “There’s no reason our meetings shouldn’t be livestreamed,” said Dudley.

Previously, parents could only take part in school board meetings by physically attending or dialing into a conference line. Dudley said the board is now working to have the June meeting available for online streaming.

Simmons said she still plans to have the third-party company attend until the meetings are consistently available online.

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