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Franklin County Public School System Va Office of Superintendent

A member of the public speaks during a special school board meeting in August at Franklin Community High School.

Until now, anyone could sign up to speak during public comment at Franklin school board meetings.

Soon, comments may be limited to people related to children in Franklin schools, and people who live within the district's geographic boundaries. This year, public comments at local school board meetings have been dominated by discussions about masking and Critical Race Theory. In some cases, those public comments have disrupted meetings, and in a few cases, school officials have adjourned meetings minutes into a meeting without getting through the agenda.

Though public comment will be open to anyone during tonight's school board meeting, Superintendent David Clendening said he may soon look to limit who can comment at meetings.

"If you're a parent and if you want to advocate hard, go for it, but if you're someone who doesn't live here, isn't a taxpayer here, who has no connection to us and is raising the roof on us during our comment section, we should limit it to people who are with us," Clendening said. "Right now, you're supposed to sign in with your name and address, but we're looking at barring people who aren't associated with the school district."

Center Grove schools requires speakers to state their address before they speak. This is done to prevent people who have no affiliation with Center Grove schools from speaking at school board meetings, Superintendent Rich Arkanoff said during an August school board meeting.

"It's important to hear from people who live in the community and hear from people in the district. People travel around and sign up for school board meetings. This is one way we look to prevent that from happening," Arkanoff said.

At other Johnson County districts, however, there are no restrictions on who can comment. Such is the case at Clark-Pleasant schools, where anyone is allowed to comment at board meetings, district spokesperson Rick Hightower said in an email.

Greenwood schools did not respond to a request for comment by deadline. Though it's board policy declares public participants may be asked to state their address, it is unclear if people unaffiliated with the school district are excluded from speaking, according to school board documents.

Indian Creek schools allows anyone to comment at meetings, said Tim Edsell, superintendent.

"Any individual who shows up at school board meetings can sign up on the sign-in sheet as soon as they enter the room, as long as the individuals speak in a civil matter about issues pertaining to the school corporation," Edsell said.

Edinburgh schools has a similar policy, but hasn't had outsiders speak at meetings, Superintendent Ronald Ross said in an email.

"Our school board meetings are open to the public," Ross said. "We allow anyone to make comments about agenda items only. They are allowed to speak for five minutes. We do not have a large attendance at meetings. We have not had anyone (not) associated with (Edinburgh schools) attend our meetings during my time (as superintendent). If this becomes an issue, we may reevaluate our current policy."

Franklin County Public School System Va Office of Superintendent

Source: https://dailyjournal.net/2021/12/13/franklin-schools-may-change-public-comment-policy/

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