Board of Education Plans Reduction Of Public Comment Time Limit - West Virginia Daily News
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Board of Education Plans Reduction Of Public Comment Time Limit

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The Greenbrier County Board of Education is considering changes to the public comment policy during the Tuesday, January 11, meeting.

The new policy would see the public comment time reduced from ten minutes to five. A top limit of 40 minutes for all speakers has been set, unless this limit is lifted by a board vote.

The board currently welcomes public comment, with ten minutes permitted for each individual speaker. For reference, most Greenbrier County local governments permit between two to five minutes of public comment per speaker.

The full policies read:

– “Each statement made by a participant shall be limited to the lessor of five minutes duration or the amount of time calculated by dividing the total number of registered speakers into the total time set aside for public participation, unless extended by the presiding officer. No person shall yield his/her time to another without the consent of the presiding officer.”

– “The portion of the meeting during which the participation of the public is invited shall be limited to 40 minutes, unless extended by a vote of the board.”

– “No participant may speak more than once on the same topic unless all others who wish to speak on that topic have been heard and, then, only at the discretion of the presiding officer.”

The presiding officer may also “interrupt, warn, or terminate” a comment that is “too lengthy, personally directed, abusive, obscene, or irrelevant,” request law enforcement remove a disorderly person, call a recess or adjournment if the “public decorum” interferes with the conduct of the meeting, and more.

The policy changes were approved to enter the 30 day public comment period. The board is expected to consider finalizing the policy in a future meeting after the comment period comes to a close.

Since the beginning of COVID-19 regulations and restrictions for local students, parents and community members have lobbied the board for their repeal and, on occasion, parents thanking them for the rules in place. As a result, the first 20 minutes of numerous Board of Education meetings have typically been filled by public comment requesting the removal of health guidelines determined by the board to best protect students, keeping them from bringing the virus home to family members, as informed by the CDC, the Greenbrier County Health Department, and the Greenbrier Valley COVID-19 Task Force.

In other business:

– The student representatives from Greenbrier East High School gave a presentation to the board, highlighting the work of some of their peers. Tristen Deeds, Riley Norman, and Ceili Allder spoke of the student government partnering with the Children’s Home Society to provide 62 children in Greenbrier and Monroe counties Christmas gifts, sending Christmas cards to the residents of Genesis Senior Living in White Sulphur Springs, putting needed items like toothbrushes in the local blessing boxes, and getting school supplies to a district in Tennessee after a natural disaster.

– The board approved a contract with Integrated Behavioral Services LLC for “behavioral consulting services.”

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