FOX4 viewers outraged about superintendent's "one question" policy
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Jun. 20, 2013
Fort Myers, Fla.
Wednesday night, Dr. Nancy Graham was sworn in as the new superintendent of the Lee County Schools. Since Dr. Graham has made it clear she wants to hire her own people….that is leaving some scared about their future. So, as is the job of a journalist, FOX4 Investigative Reporter Dave Culbreth tried to get you, the viewer, some answers.
But when reporters gathered to asked questions we were told to limit it to one question. After Culbreth asked his first question he went right to the next question, “What about staff, there’s a lot of people wondering if they're going to be keeping their jobs?” Before he could finish, the district’s communications director, Amity Chandler, interrupted by saying, “Dave, we're gonna stop at one question.” To which Culbreth responded, “She can answer the question.” Chandler then said, “Dave, she could but we agreed to one question".
The fact is no “agreements” were made, Chandler merely told reporters in advance that they could only ask one question. As it turned out, the first reporter asked seven questions before being stopped.
Reporters were also told Dr. Graham had another event to go to and time didn't allow for it. However, no mention was made as to why the press conference was scheduled between events and not prior to the swearing in ceremony.
Thursday, the superintendent of Charlotte County schools was asked if this typically happens. "We really believe that transparency is everything and so when we get questions from the press we answer those questions,” said Dr. Doug Whittaker. When asked if he ever restricts press conferences to one question, he said, “We answer questions as long as there are questions".
Many viewers posted on Facebook that they want to hear from Dr. Graham and after last night’s segment aired and that you were surprised to find out she's already limiting how many questions reporters can ask on your behalf.
Andrea wrote; "They work for us, the taxpayers. Limiting questions is their way of hiding. This school district is broken and dysfunctional and not serving the public well."
Ron added; "Don't forget our tax dollars pay her salary! I think as an appointed member of our local schools she should be open to questions. Limiting reporter’s questions only makes it feel like they are hiding information about her already, and she hasn't even served her first day on the job."
Kim said; "Just sworn in and already trying to hide something?"
But some of you felt differently:
Daniel commented; "Instead of reporting about the swearing in ceremony your report is a rant to give the public a negative first opinion about her because you're upset about only being allowed to ask one question. How self absorbed are you?"
And Barb suggested; "Maybe if more reporters would ask questions in a respectful manner and not demanding answers that cannot be given immediately that would change. Make an appointment and I'll bet she'll talk to you”.
As to that comment we decided to call the district to schedule an interview. Culbreth did that and said, “Yes, hello. Hey this is Dave Culbreth with FOX4. Hi, I was calling to see about the possibility of setting up an interview with Dr. Graham perhaps for tomorrow to finish answering some questions we tried to ask last night."
We will let you know how that turns out Friday night on FOX4 News at Ten.