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Reporter removed from meeting; possible violation of New York law

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  1. Freedom of Information
Long Island, N.Y. school officials on Wednesday forced a least one reporter out of a meeting called after seven local…

Long Island, N.Y. school officials on Wednesday forced a least one reporter out of a meeting called after seven local high school students were charged in connection with the stabbing of an Ecuadorean immigrant.

The meeting, deemed a “parent forum,” was held at the Patchogue-Medford school district. A Newsday reporter was removed from the meeting. News12 station cameras were not allowed in.

Tensions had already been running high at the meeting. Prosecutors have described the stabbing as a hate crime, alleging in court that the teens had said, “’Let’s go find some Mexicans to —- up,” as Newsday reported. The victim was 38-year-old Marcelo Lucero. The suspects are all 16 and 17.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Newsday reported, “Several parents grew angry at the media during the meeting and many more began screaming at the reporter to leave.”

School officials told the newspaper the problem was that the reporter, Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, was interviewing people during the meeting. Kelleher said when a moderator demanded “respect” and that interviews be conducted outside, a school security guard grabbed her with both hands and shoved her out the door.

Open government advocates said closing the meeting to reporters could be a violation of New York’s open meetings law and a state law that requires meetings in school buildings be open to the public.