During Thursday's meeting of the Knox County Career Center Board of Education, Dr. Margie Bennett, vice-president of the board, suggested the board change its public participation rule.
Currently, the board interprets its Bylaws & Policies concerning public participation to mean that the board only allows public comments if people sign up ten days in advance of the meeting.
Bennett suggested the KCCC board adopt a policy similar to that of the Mount Vernon Board of Education, of which she serves as president.
The MVBOE's policy is as follows:
Public Participation at Board Meetings The Board of Education recognizes the value to school governance of public comment on educational issues and the importance of allowing members of the public to express themselves on school matters of community interest. Any person or group wishing to place an item on the agenda shall register their intent with the Superintendent no later than ten (10) days prior to the meeting and include name and address of the participant; group affiliation, if and when appropriate; and topic to be addressed. Such requests shall be subject to the approval of the Superintendent and the Board President. In order to permit the fair and orderly expression of such comment, the Board shall provide a period for public participation at those public meetings of the Board during which action may be taken and publish rules to govern such participation in Board meetings. The presiding officer of each Board meeting at which public participation is permitted shall administer the rules of the Board for its conduct. The presiding officer shall be guided by the following rules: A.
Public participation shall be permitted as indicated on the order of business and/or at the discretion of the presiding officer. B.
Anyone having a legitimate interest in the actions of the Board may participate during the public portion of a meeting. C.
Attendees must register their intention to participate in the public portion of the meeting upon their arrival at the meeting. D.
Participants must be recognized by the presiding officer and will be requested to preface their comments by an announcement of their name, address, and group affiliation, if and when appropriate. E.
Each statement made by a participant shall be limited to three (3) minutes duration. F.
No participant may speak more than once on the same topic unless all others who wish to speak on that topic have been heard. G.
All statements shall be directed to the presiding officer; no person may address or question Board members individually. H.
Tape or video recordings are permitted. The person operating the recorder should contact the Superintendent prior to the Board meeting and agrees to the placement of the equipment and must agree to abide by the following conditions: 1.
No obstructions are created between the Board and the audience. 2.
No interviews are conducted in the meeting room while the Board is in session. 3.
No commentary, adjustment of equipment, or positioning of operators is made that would distract either the Board or members of the audience while the Board is in session and not disrupt the meeting. I.
The presiding officer may waive these rules. J.
The portion of the meeting during which the participation of the public is invited shall be limited to fifteen (15) minutes unless extended by the presiding officer. R.C. 3313.20 Revised 1/10/05
Regarding the wording of the public participation policy, although the board has apparently been interpreting the policy to mean that people have to sign up ten days in advance, the policy only requires ten days in advance if someone wishes to "place an item on the agenda." Someone could be allowed to speak without being on the agenda because the policy goes on to say "the Board may provide a period for public participation." (Though it is still up to the superintendent whether anyone actually gets to speak.)
The link to the KCCC policy (0169.1 Public Participation at Board Meetings):