Skip to Content

White County School Board Discussing Change To Public Comment Policy

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
White County School Board Discussing Change To Public Comment Policy

White County Board of Education Member Dewayne Howard wants to change the school board policy regarding public comment.

Howard said he wanted to remove a line from the policy stating that public comments must be related to items on that meeting’s agenda. Howard said it would allow the citizens in the community to have a stronger voice.

“Why should we take this setting away from them and tell them, ‘No, you can’t speak?’” Howard said. “It’s like the lady last time, ‘You’re taking my freedom of speech rights away from me,’ and I agree with the people. I agree with the public. So if we want the people to listen to us, I think we ought to listen to the people in whatever setting they want to use.”

Chairman Bob Young said he thought it would be careless to remove the rule because it would force the board members to discuss any topic during any meeting without time to research the subject and get the proper knowledge.

“That removes any safeguard I have for being able to be prepared to engage the public on matters that they may have and want to discuss pertaining the district that may very well be very important,” Young said. “But it puts me on the spot to have to answer that right there and I don’t think that’s a good way to make decisions and conduct business for the district.”

The board voted on the change and it ended in a tie, meaning the current policy will remain in place.

Young said there is a protocol in place for citizens to get onto the board’s meeting agenda if they want to.

“That is submitting that information to the director of schools seven days prior to our meeting with supporting information that would be distributed to each of you to give you the opportunity to educate yourself and maybe even reach out to an individual if they are in your district to better educate on the subject,” Young said. “But at least we all are on a level playing field and we all have been given the opportunity to be educated on the subject.”

Young said people should reach out to their district representatives before coming straight to the board when there is a problem.

Multiple board members said they were unsure if the change was even legal, but Howard said he spoke with the Tennessee School Boards Association and confirmed that it was permissible.


The post White County School Board Discussing Change To Public Comment Policy appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.