School Board » Policy 903

Policy 903

Section 900 Community

Title: Public Participation in Board Meetings

Code: 903

Status: Active

Adopted: July 13, 1995

Last Revised: March 8, 2010

 

Purpose

The Board recognizes the value to school governance of public comment on educational issues and the importance of involving members of the public in Board meetings. The Board also recognizes its responsibility for proper governance of the district and the need to conduct its business in an orderly and efficient manner. In order to assure that persons who wish to appear before the Board may be heard and at the same time conduct its meetings properly and efficiently, the Board will permit public participation in accordance with the terms of this policy.

 

Authority

The Board shall establish rules to govern public participation in Board meetings necessary to conduct its meeting and to maintain order.[1]

 

In order to permit fair and orderly expression of public comment, the Board will provide a period for public participation at each regular or special meeting of the Board for residents and taxpayers to comment on matters of concern, official action or deliberation before the Board prior to official action by the Board.[2]

 

The agenda for all regular or special meetings of the Board of School Directors shall include a time for public comments and participation at the beginning of the meeting.

 

If the Board determines there is not sufficient time at a public meeting for public comments, the comment period may be deferred to the next regular meeting or to a special meeting occurring before the next regular meeting.[2]

Delegation of Responsibility

The presiding officer at each public Board meeting will follow the rules of the Board for conduct of public participation in Board meetings in accordance with Board policy. The Board vests in its presiding officer the authority to make rulings regarding the implementation of the Board rules and any ruling shall be final unless it is disputed and overruled by a majority of the Board members present and voting.[3][4]

 

Guidelines

Rules for Public Participation

 

Time period

  1. The overall time period for public participation at the beginning of the meeting shall not exceed sixty (60) minutes each time.
  2. The time period for receipt of comments from any one (1) individual shall not exceed five (5) minutes.
  3. Presentations should be as brief as possible.
  4. When the sixty (60) minute time period has expired, the presiding officer will close the period for public participation.

 

Written Request

  1. Any person who wishes to address the Board of School Directors at a regular or special meeting should submit a written request to the Board Secretary, which shall include the following information:
    1. Name and address of speaker.
    2. Name of the group that the speaker is representing (if any).
    3. General nature of the topic and comments to be made.
  1. To accommodate the ability of the public to orderly participate in Board meetings, the Board Secretary shall make available request forms upon which such information can be set forth.
  2. Participants are encouraged to submit the written request form to the Board Secretary as early as possible prior to the meeting, including submission to the Board Secretary during business hours on the day of the meeting, but no later than the commencement of the meeting. This will permit orderly scheduling of public comments. Any participant not doing so shall have the right to speak, time permitting and pursuant to these rules and regulations, by raising his/her hand so that the presiding officer may recognize his/her desire to speak.
  3. Public participation shall be limited to those persons who comply with this section.

 

Order of Comment

  1. Participants submitting written request forms to the Board Secretary shall have priority.
  2. Participants who have identified agenda items on the written request form shall be recognized first.
  3. If sufficient time remains, participants who have submitted written request forms unrelated to agenda items may be recognized.
  4. If sufficient time remains, participants who have not submitted written request forms may be recognized.
  5. Except as set forth herein, the specific determination of the order in which individuals may address the Board lies within the sole discretion of the presiding officer.

 

Format of Comments

  1. Comments presented to the Board of School Directors shall be made by the public in the form of informational items or statements and not in the form of questions to the Board. (As a point of information, members of the Board are without authority to act independently as individuals in official matters.)
  2. All informational items or statements shall be directed to the presiding officer. No participant may address or question Board members individually.
  3. Items of information, statements or comments brought before the Board at a regular or special meeting will not necessarily be responded to or acted upon at that meeting, if at all.

 

Content of Comment

  1. Comments presented to the Board may offer objective criticisms and comment on school operations and programs.
  2. Whenever issues identified by the participant are subject to remediation under policies and procedures of the Board, they shall be dealt with in accordance with those policies and procedures within the organizational structure of the district. Specifically, in public session, the Board will not hear personal complaints against school personnel or against any person previously connected with the school system. Other channels provide for Board consideration and disposition of legitimate complaints involving individuals. Any such charges, complaints or challenges should be presented to the Superintendent or Secretary of the Board in writing and signed by the Complainant. All such charges, if presented to the Board directly, will be referred to the Superintendent for investigation and report.
  3. Participants are encouraged to submit written statements to the Board of School Directors containing any supplemental information to comments made.

 

Authority of Presiding Officer

The Board vests in its presiding officer the authority to:

  1. Interrupt or terminate a participant’s statement when the statement is personally directed, abusive, obscene, irrelevant or does not adhere to the provisions of the policy.
  2. Request any individual to leave the meeting when that person does not observe reasonable decorum.
  3. Call a recess or an adjournment to another time when the lack of public decorum so interferes with the orderly conduct of the meeting as to warrant such action.
  4. Declare out-of-order members of the public who engage in discussions concerning personnel matters or otherwise privileged or confidential matters.
  5. Request the assistance of law enforcement officers in the removal of a disorderly person when that person’s conduct interferes with the orderly progress of the meeting.

 

Legal

1. 65 Pa. C.S.A. 710

2. 65 Pa. C.S.A. 710.1

3. 24 P.S. 407

4. Pol. 006

65 Pa. C.S.A. 701 et seq