At Monday’s CDA School Board meeting, Trustee Casey Morrisroe proposed a change to the public comment procedure at future board meetings. Morrisroe wants to limit public comment to agenda items only, stating that he would prefer to have a dialogue over email or coffee instead of a one-way conversation at a board meeting.
“These board meetings are for us to conduct business and I think sometimes we get bogged down with comment,” said Morrisroe.
Superintendent Hocker agreed and wanted to be on the record making it very clear that [limiting public comment] “in no way is meant to stifle public comment. This is to be specific. We’re working our tails off trying to create communication with our community and we don’t get to do it [in the meetings]. We sit here for 45 minutes and listen to comment and that’s it. There’s no dialogue back and forth whereas a cup of coffee, an email, those kinds of exchanges of other avenues create opportunities for people to get their questions answered.”
In January the school board updated the policy to limit public comment to 45 minutes unless the board voted to extend the commenting timeframe.
One aspect of public comment Hocker did not discuss is when the public uses this time to bring attention to the controversial issues that the administration will not acknowledge, most recently the administration’s lack of action in the incidents of boys in the girl’s bathrooms.
Video clips of female students who have made public comments speaking out against how the administration handled boys in girl’s bathrooms have over 3.5 million views on social media. If the girls had not made public comment the community would have not known about this issue. It should be noted that board meeting public comment is there for the board to hear the people’s grievances as much as it is for the community to hear grievances against the district.
Trustee Leslie Bjerke opposed the policy modification stating, “I really think we need have the ability to be nimble to be able to react to the needs of our patrons, and by eliminating public comment…it jeopardizes our ability to do that.”
Trustee Allie Anderton agreed, “anything restricting public comment from community members is unnecessary and it’s not like we’re here that often for a long period of time for public comment. I think as trustees it would be wise of us to leave [comments] open to [the public] to address what they would like to at our board meetings...”
Ultimately the discussion was tabled until a future date. This is the public’s chance to email the school board thoughts on the policy proposal. Email the board at trustees@CDASchools.org.
Full discussion below.