Policy BEDH: Public Participation at Committee Meetings

All regular and special meetings of the School Committee will be open to the public. These meetings are business meetings held in public session. Executive sessions will be held as necessary and as prescribed by state law. (See also Policy BEC .)
The School Committee welcomes residents of the District and visitors to attend its meetings so that they may become better acquainted with the operations and the programs of its local public schools. In addition, the Committee appreciates the opportunity to hear the wishes and ideas of the public on issues of School Committee business.
If a resident or other individual would like to comment to the School Committee, he/she may do so by mail or email at any time. Comments may be sent to the chair, to an individual member, or to the entire committee. Mail and email sent to School Committee members in their role as School Committee members are considered to be public documents.

Public Comment

During a business meeting, residents and visitors may be recognized to address the Committee during the time designated for Public Comment, normally scheduled near the beginning of the meeting. In order that many individuals who wish to be heard before the Committee have such a chance and to insure the ability of the Committee to conduct the district’s business in an orderly manner, the following rules and procedures are adopted:

  1. At each regularly scheduled School Committee meeting, individuals or group representatives will be invited to address the Committee. Public Comment normally will be for a period no longer than 15 minutes. The length of the Public Comment segment will be determined by the Chair.
  2. An Individual wishing to address the Committee should raise his/her hand. Speakers must be recognized by the Chair and must identify themselves and the topic they plan to address. Speakers generally will be allowed a maximum of three (3) minutes to speak. The Chair may permit extension of this time limit.
  3. Improper conduct and remarks will not be allowed. Defamatory or abusive remarks are always out of order. If such behavior is exhibited, the Chair may terminate that individual’s privilege to address the Committee. If a person persists in disorderly behavior, the person may be asked to withdraw from the meeting or may be removed from the meeting.
  4. All remarks will be addressed to the Chair.
  5. Public Comment is not a discussion, debate, or dialogue between residents and the Committee. It is an opportunity to express one’s opinion on issues of School Committee business.
  6. Speakers may offer comments and opinions about the school operations and programs that concern them, but in public session the Committee will not hear personal complaints about school personnel nor against any member of the school community, either by name or by reference to position. Under most circumstances, administrative channels are the proper means for disposition of legitimate complaints involving staff members.
  7. If an issue could be resolved by directing an individual to an appropriate staff member, the Superintendent or Chair may advise the individual of appropriate steps to take.
  8. Written comments may be presented to the Committee before or after the meeting for the Committee members’ review and consideration at an appropriate time.
  9. A group of residents appearing at a meeting to express favor or opposition to a particular item should designate one member of the group as a spokesperson to be heard on the topic. Other members of the group may also be heard if they feel they can offer additional information on the topic.
  10. If questions or inquiries can be answered briefly based on available information the Committee Chair or Superintendent may respond at that time, however, the Chair may request that the question be put in writing to the appropriate person so that the matter is given the proper consideration.

Public Participation During Agenda Items 

During a business meeting, residents and visitors may be recognized to address the Committee about particular items on the agenda, at the discretion of the Chair. The School Committee members will discuss the agenda item before any public comments are taken.

Public Hearings

If the School Committee believes that an issue requires a broader dialogue with the community, the Committee may schedule a separate public hearing on that issue. (See also Policy BEE .)

Printed copies of these rules and procedures for public participation will be available at School Committee meetings. In the event that a printed copy is unavailable, the Chair will explain the rules for addressing the Committee.

LEGAL REF:

MGL 30A:18 , 30A:20, 30A:21, 30A:22 , 30A:23

CROSS REF:

Policy BEC
Policy BEE
 

Region Voted to Approve: 12/2/08
Amherst Voted to Approve: 12/2/08
Pelham Voted to Approve: 12/4/08
Effective Date: 12/4/08
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