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Public Address to the Board

The board of education, as an elected representative body of the school system, welcomes and encourages input from any member of the public who desires to appear before the board. The board will set aside the first part of each regularly scheduled monthly board meeting for members of the public to address the board through public comment. If the board does not hold a regular meeting during a month, the board will not provide a time for public comment at any other meeting held during that month, unless a majority of the board votes to allow public comment at the meeting or unless the purpose of the meeting is a public hearing.

To facilitate an orderly meeting while providing an opportunity for input, individuals or groups may address the board in accordance with the following guidelines:

1. A sign-up sheet shall be made available 30 minutes before the meeting begins for any individual or group to indicate their desire to address the board. The sign-up time will close 15 minutes before the meeting begins. Those who wish to speak must sign up themselves; individuals may not sign up on behalf of others. During the public comment period, the board chair will recognize speakers in the order in which they signed up. Substitute speakers will not be permitted, and speakers may not donate any portion of their time to another speaker. The following information is required for any person seeking to address the board during the public comment period: (a) the name and address of the person who desires to appear; (b) the subject to be presented for the board’s consideration; and (c) the name of the group being represented, if any.

2. Each speaker will receive three minutes to present comments; however, the public comment session will not exceed 30 minutes total except by majority vote of the board. If an unusually large number of people request to speak, a majority of the board may decide to reduce the time for each individual or to require the designation of a spokesperson for each group of persons supporting or opposing the same positions. At any time, the board may establish additional procedures to ensure that public comment session proceed in an efficient and orderly manner.

3. At no time during public comment or any other time during the board meeting will a speaker or meeting attendee approach the board table, unless invited to do so by the chairperson. Any person who fails to comply with this provision will be removed from the meeting.

4. Complaints about the performance of school personnel, implementation of board policy, the quality of the educational program, or school facilities should be submitted initially for a response to the school system official responsible for the program or facility or to the superintendent. The superintendent or designee shall make available this policy and other relevant grievance procedures to any individual or group submitting a complaint.

5. The purpose of the public comment period is to allow citizens to address the board rather than for the board to take immediate action in response to a presentation. Board members will not respond to individuals who address the board except to request clarification of points made by the presenter.   Except in cases of emergency, information received during presentations will not be acted upon at the time it is received. A unanimous vote of the board members present is required to take action on a presentation considered to be of an unusual or emergency nature at the time it is presented.

6. Obscene or vulgar statements, personal attacks, and statement reasonably perceived to be disruptive or imminently threatening to the orderly operation of the meeting shall not be permitted. Any limitation on public comments shall be viewpoint neutral. The Chairman will have the responsibility to determine matters of the discussion that may be inappropriate under this Policy and to rule the speaker out of order, if necessary.

7. A person who willfully interrupts, disturbs, or disrupts an official meeting and who, upon being directed to leave, willfully refuses to leave the meeting is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. §143-318.17.

View Policy Code: 2340 Board Meeting Procedures for more information.