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Le Roy School District labels media exercising First Amendment rights 'criminal activity'

By Howard B. Owens
Jan 28, 2012, 11:48pm

At 2:35 p.m., Bill Albert, representing the Le Roy Central School District, issued the following press release. It came more than two hours after a sometimes confrontational impromptu press conference with national and regional media (and one local news reporter), Albert and Superintendent Kim Cox (both pictured above).

This morning, without any prior notice to the District, camera crews from a number of media sources, including both national and local outlets, entered District property for the purpose of filming an unidentified individual taking soil samples.

It is appalling that whatever group or entity employing this individual, as well as the media outlets participating in this effort, chose to conduct themselves in this way -- which can only be characterized as grandstanding. Not only was this criminal activity which forced the District to call in local law enforcement to maintain the security of its property, it disrupted the District’s preparations for a weekend music event involving students from over twenty-two schools as well as other student activities.  No legitimate organization would function in this manner.

As previously indicated, the District is working in conjunction with local and state agencies relative to this matter. Based upon the results from testing already conducted at the District as well as review of other information from multiple sources, environmental factors have not been identified as a cause of the symptoms that have manifested in some students. Testing conducted with rogue samples is of no scientific value, as it is not conducted in accordance with scientific methodologies and safety protocols utilized by reputable environmental experts in all testing situations. In fact, such actions could hamper the coordinated effort already underway by the District in conjunction with environmental, health, and safety experts to address this matter. The District will continue to provide information with respect to these efforts as it becomes available. 

Local law enforcement will continue to monitor the security of the District’s property. 

Here's the background:

I arrived at district propety at 11:15 a.m. At the time, there were not even a dozen cars in the parking lot of the school. There were no students to be seen.

I could see a group of people, and recognize a boom mic, clear across the athletic fields, so I drove around to that side, which is a public park. Several members of national and regional media were at the location. 

The media and members of the Erin Brockovich team left the location and drove to a location on Route 5. Bob Bowcock wanted to gather well water samples from that location. When he was finished there, he wanted to drive back to the school because he was told an attorney would be there to let him know whether he could have access to the school grounds.

Shortly after the caravan arrived at the park, Albert and Cox arrived.

While the questioning was at times pointed and aggressive, it wasn't unprofessional.

Bowcock was told by Albert that he could walk the grounds, just like any other citizen in Le Roy, but could not take soil samples, and the media would not be allowed on the grounds. Albert said that while members of the media were citizens, they could not go on the property while acting in capacity as media, even though numerous Supreme Court cases have not drawn a distinction between a "person" and a "corporate entity" (most recently Citizens United) for the purpose of First Amendment rights.

School property is public property and public access cannot be denied so long as it does not disrupt the educational purpose of the campus.

The media was on site during non-school hours and there was no evidence of educational activity. To label the media presence as "criminal activity" is beyond ludicrous.

One additional note: The additional law enforcement was two overtime patrols from the Genesee County Sheriff's Office. The school district paid for the extra enforcement. The patrols will be in the area throughout Sunday.

Daniel Jones

Perhaps they would like some cheese with that wine. Sometimes accountability causes people who aren't used to being held accountable to become shrill and ridiculous.

Jan 29, 2012, 12:06am Permalink
Kyle Couchman

Well Howard from your own narration, vs the statement put out by the district there is alot of discrepancies. This just adds a few more notches in my "if everything is ok why are they acting like this" list. Something seems to be happening that officials are worried about. Otherwise this would simply be a transparent process.

Jan 29, 2012, 5:40am Permalink
Jeffrey Houseknecht

you would think that they would welcome additional testing with open arms,only thing is they can't control the results being released if it is something they don't want known

Jan 29, 2012, 7:00am Permalink
Brian Schollard

The criminal intent of the out of control media is obvious here. The Leroy School District needs the professional services of non bias outlets like KCNA, TASS, AL-Thawra,Venezolana de Television and MSNBC

Jan 29, 2012, 10:01am Permalink
Jeff Allen

Charlie, Leroy school officials may be acting like Boss Hogg, but our Genesee County Sheriffs deputies are nothing like Rosco P. Coltrane. Not a justifiable comparison.

Jan 29, 2012, 10:15am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

The police officers and deputies on duty yesterday were nothing but professional and courteous both to me (but of course, they all know me) and from what I observed of them with the other media and Bowcock and his team. And everybody complied with every request of law enforcement with no back talk -- the back talk came when Albert and Cox arrived.

Jan 29, 2012, 10:22am Permalink

I feel as if it's criminal activity on my part,letting my boy attend school there..we just spoke again about this and he says there's really no other option..I,in adition feel as I have no other choice either(he lives with his mother and we hang out on the weekends)There should be heads scrambling to figure this 1 out,Or do they already know? Or,are my government officials waiting it out?

Jan 29, 2012, 10:54am Permalink
Sarah Lee

Doesn't anyone remember that last year, 2011, Byron-Bergen School District had the same thing? It was dropped like a 'hot potato'. Why waste all of this money etc right now? This happened last year in Byron -Bergen School and nobody is even bringing it up.

Jan 29, 2012, 12:48pm Permalink
Beth Kinsley

Sarah, I don't recall hearing about this until someone else brought it up on another site. Do you know how many students were affected, ages, boys, girls, etc.? Also, do you know if their conditions have improved?

Jan 29, 2012, 12:59pm Permalink
Ted Wenzka

Enough already!!!
This is mass hysteria COUNTY WIDE and making LeRoy and citizens of Genesee County the laughing stock of the nation.
All these outsiders want is national attention to say "Look at me, I know everything. Aren't I great." and you people are soaking it all in.
I have confidence in the local officials. I would think you would also.

Jan 30, 2012, 1:17pm Permalink

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