PUBLIC COMMENT AND PARTICIPATION AT SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETINGS
It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens be advised of and aware of the performance of public officials and the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy.
Members of the Public are encouraged to attend public meetings of the School Committee to listen and observe its deliberations. The Smithfield School Committee recognizes the advantages of allowing members of the public an opportunity to offer their comments and suggestions at such meetings.
1. Business Meetings:
Discussion of agenda items during business sessions of School Committee meetings shall initially be limited to School Committee members and the Superintendent and/or other support staff as requested by the Superintendent. Public comment shall be allowed on each agenda item in accordance with section 2 of this policy.
2. Public Comment on Agenda Items:
The School Committee recognizes the value and importance of input on business and educational policy matters. The Committee’s agenda will therefore accommodate reasonable public comment and suggestions for the purpose of receiving the same.
Once the School Committee has concluded its initial comments regarding an agenda item, Members of the public may ask questions of the committee or make comment concerning the advertised agenda item. All questions and comments made by members of the public must be presented through the Chairperson of the Committee. Public Comments on agenda items shall be limited to opinion or concerns directly related to public agenda items. Speakers are expected to be civil, reasonable and respectful with their comments. Personal attacks will not be tolerated. School Committee Members may not comment on issues brought forward by the public that are not listed as agenda items.
The public comment section shall allow individual members of the public up to five (5) minutes to speak on agenda items per meeting. Members of the public may not “pool” or assign their allotted time. However, the Committee, by majority vote, may expand an individual’s time if good cause is shown.
Speakers shall utilize the provided podium and microphone to speak during public comment.
Public Comments shall be limited to new information and/or comments. Comments by members of the public shall not cover materials or issues that have already been discussed by the School Committee. The chairperson shall have the authority to stop redundant and duplicative comments by members of the public.
Total public comment time shall not exceed fifteen (15) minutes per agenda item. However, the Committee, by majority vote, may expand such time if good cause is shown.
3. Open Forum:
The School Committee recognizes the importance of remaining open to the receipt of public comment on issues relating to the education of Smithfield students. The Committee’s agenda, therefore, establishes and sets aside a special time for the purpose of receiving such comments and suggestions.
The School Committee may place an Open Forum agenda item on a School Committee Agenda. The School Committee is not required to include an Open Forum item on every meeting agenda.
During an Open Forum each member of the public will be allowed a total of five (5) minutes to speak.
Members of the public will sign up to speak during the open forum portion of the public meeting. The sign in will be made available directly prior to the public meeting. The sign in will determine the order in which speakers are heard.
Speakers shall utilize the provided podium and microphone to speak during the open forum.
The Open Forum section of any regular School Committee meeting shall not exceed thirty (30) minutes in time.
School Committee members shall not engage in substantive discussion with members of the public during the Open Forum portion of the Agenda.
The Chairperson shall preside over the Open Forum.
Lastly, members of the School Committee will recognize that the Open Forum portion of the agenda is for the public to express their thoughts and concerns and we as Committee members will refrain from interrupting speakers during the allotted time. Any person who wishes to make public comments and voice their concerns will be treated equally, with dignity and respect.
ADOPTED: December 19, 2011
REVISED: January 22, 2013, August 18, 2014