KCCI reporter Lauren Johnson took to Twitter on Monday to express disappointment with the Ankeny School District. Johnson claimed she was kept out of the school board meeting and seemed to suggest it was because she is black.
“I’m still in shock of what I experienced covering the Ankeny School Board meeting tonight,” Johnson said. “At first, I was told I wasn’t allowed in the meeting even though I had contacted their communications team that I would be attending.
Johnson said she was told the meeting was at (I am assuming capacity) and she would have to wait to get in.
“The school district’s attorney then came out to speak to me, where she told me I was being LOUD and if I wanted to see the meeting, I would need to watch the live stream,” Johnson said. “Not only am I disgusted at the lack of professionalism I saw tonight but I am extremely disappointed in how often journalists like myself are faced with instances like these. I do my best to hold my tongue but tonight I will not.
“Shame on Ankeny for trying to keep a black reporter out of the room during a meeting that was literally about diversity, equity and inclusion. I hope no reporter ever feels the hurt and embarrassment I felt tonight. Journalists of color should never have to feel like they don’t belong in a space while trying to do their job.”
Well, I wonder if Johnson thinks journalists who aren’t of color should have to feel like they don’t belong in a space while trying to do their job. Why the qualifier?
Regardless, Ankeny has capped attendance in the board room at 35 people since December due to construction.
And, according to individuals who tried to attend the meeting in person on Monday, there were upwards of 50 other people who were prevented from entering the room. And they were prevented regardless of race.
Multiple sources have told The Iowa Standard the room was at capacity before doors even opened as there was a previous meeting.
The Iowa Standard was kept out of the board meeting last year when the board was discussing masking issues in the school.
It wasn’t because of our race, it was because of circumstances.
Hopefully Johnson has some sort of smoking gun that shows she was intentionally left out based solely on her race, because if not, what she did was irresponsible and unbecoming.
Johnson said she and her news director spoke with Ankeny School District on Tuesday and the district was “very willing to learn what went wrong and apologized for what happened.”
“Healing from this will take a while,” she wrote. “But if we can make an example out of this situation, now it’s very clear instances are unacceptable. I’m hoping this means other journalists in Iowa won’t be turned away from doing their job.”
The Iowa Standard reached out to the Ankeny School District. We’ll update the story or publish an update if the district responds.
Only 35 people got in, and the room was full when the doors opened because of a "pre-work" meeting prior to the school board meeting. You were not singled out as about 50 others were denied entry
— Melissa Billings (@eyedocmel) April 5, 2022