As journalists, we are taught present facts in a fair and balanced manner whenever possible and to avoid obvious bias and advocacy. But when it comes to issues of openness and transparency, journalists stand together in their belief that public organizations harm society (and in this case, harm children) when they support practices that hinder public access to information.
In the case of the Buffalo Public Schools, there are physical barriers to information access, such as where and how the school board conducts its meetings. And there are procedural and policy-related barriers to access, such as the district's failure to post public documents and agendas online, and its facilitation of "small group" meetings.
As a new school year approaches and crises continue to weigh heavily on a district desperate for solutions, it will be interesting to see if the newly seated board chooses to give the concept of transparency more than lip service.
For years, the board has supported longstanding practices that are at odds with this concept. Here's one example. Below is the district's policy for conducting "small group meetings," which are held the Monday before every regular board meeting and carefully structured (by inviting less than a board majority) to circumvent the state's Open Meetings Law.