Sarasota School Board May Limit Public Input at Their Meetings
The Sarasota County School Board is discussing possible changes to its public comment protocol. The current policy gives speakers up to three minutes to address the board, it forbids abusive language and does not allow people to play audio recordings or yield their time to another speaker.
The proposed new policy would still allow for public comment, but the more speakers that show up, the less time each person would get.
If there are between one and 10 speakers, each would get 3 minutes; between 11 and 20 speakers would mean each gets two minutes, and if there are more than 20 speakers, each person would get one minute.
There would also be guidelines for having one speaker represent a large group, rather than giving everyone a turn to talk.
Under the proposed policy, the main public comment portion of the meeting would also be limited specifically to items that are on the agenda.
Over the past year, very large crowds have shown up to most school board meetings to address items that are not always on the agenda, like masks in schools, critical race theory, or other complaints over items in the curriculum.
Under the new proposed rules, speakers would have to wait until the end of the meeting to address the school board, and those comments will be limited to one minute each and would not be televised.
This new rule would give the board chairman wide latitude to determine when a citizen is not allowed to speak any more. In recent meetings, citizens have had the mic cut off for critiquing individual board members'
This new policy is up for discussion during a Tuesday, September 21st 9 a.m. workshop. This new potential policy would need to be publicly advertised before the board could take a vote on it.
You can contact the Sarasota County School Board here: https://www.sarasotacountyschools.net/Page/2474