Public participation in Board Meetings
Meetings of the Board of Education (Board) are structured to allow the Board to conduct its public business. Meetings of the Board are open to the public but are not to be confused with public forums. The Paulding County Board of Education shall offer the opportunity to address the Board in open session for any interested resident of Paulding County; Paulding County School District (District) student or parent/guardian of a District student; non-resident owner of property within the geographic boundaries of the District; and/or employee of the District pursuant to the guidelines outlined in this Policy. Any student under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Public comments will not be permitted if:
- (1) The topic is excluded by the Open Meetings Act (O.C.G.A. §§ 50-14-1 et seq.); (This includes, but may not be limited to, certain land, legal or personnel items);
- The speaker makes obscene, profane, vulgar, defamatory, slanderous, or threatening gestures/remarks during his/her public commentary;
- The speaker discusses a student by name, or shares other information that could lead to the personal identification of a student (See, for example, Family and Educational Rights Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g);
- The speaker makes untrue, slanderous or defamatory comments or other unsubstantiated claims about an identified or identifiable employee (While general comments are appropriate for the public comment session, concerns about specific individuals should be addressed privately with the appropriate District administrator.); or
- The speaker disrupts or attempts to disrupt the Board meeting (See, for example, O.C.G.A. § 16-11-34).
The Public Participation will occur at the beginning of the regularly scheduled meeting, immediately following the recognition portion of the agenda. The Board Chair may elect to move the regularly scheduled time for public input to facilitate procedure for input regarding another item on the agenda. The open session for public input should not exceed thirty (30) minutes.
For Agenda Items: Individuals desiring to appear before the Board shall sign in prior to the beginning of the meeting containing the agenda item(s) of interest (Note: Individuals desiring to speak on published agenda items will be given priority)
For Non-Agenda Items: Individuals desiring to appear before the Board meeting regarding an item that is not on the agenda must notify the Superintendent, in writing no later than twenty-four (24) hours prior to the scheduled meeting.
- Before addressing the Board, individuals are urged to seek a solution to their concerns through the appropriate school or District staff.
- Individuals desiring to appear before the Board must first complete a sign-in sheet which should be available thirty (30) minutes prior to the convening of the Board meeting. Speaker information must contain: Name; Full physical address; Telephone number; E-Mail address, if applicable; Discussion topic; Affirmation of their residency in Paulding or a non-resident who owns property within the geographic boundaries of Paulding; a District student or parent/guardian of a District student; and/or an employee of the District.
- Any emergency or item deemed necessary may be added to the agenda by majority vote of the Board members present
- Each person whose name is placed on the agenda will be given up to five (5) minutes to make their comments. The Board, by majority vote, may extend or further limit the time allotted for a citizen to make a presentation by a majority vote of the Board members present. However the total time for the Public Input Session shall not exceed thirty (30) minutes.
- All comments and questions to the Board of Education should be addressed to the Board of Education as a whole and not to an individual Board member
- Where several citizens wish to address the same topic or issue, the Board reserves the right to limit further discussions should they become repetitive. The Board reserves the right to ask those wishing to address the same topic or issue to select a spokesperson to present their concerns to the Board.
- While citizens may use their allotted time to take serious issue with Board decisions, the Board will not permit anyone to become personally abusive of individual Board members or system employees. Personnel complaints regarding District employees should follow the Complaints and Grievance procedures established by the Board.
- Speakers should be aware that their public commentary may be broadcast live, filmed, photographed, or recorded by the District or other non-District media sources. (Note: Any portion of public commentary that is not in compliance with this policy may be edited prior to any re-broadcast.)
- Any person who willfully violates these guidelines may forfeit the remainder of their speaking time and the Board may, in consultation with the Board Attorney, issue a written notice prohibiting the speaker from appearing before the Board for up to sixty (60) days
- When issues arise that stimulate high community interest, the Board may schedule special meetings specifically to invite public comment. In those circumstances, the Board will establish special guidelines for participation.
- The Board will not respond to comments or questions posed by citizens in their presentations, but will take those comments and questions under advisement. However, Board members and/or the Superintendent may ask questions for clarification.
- If requested during his/her remarks, a speaker will receive a written response from the Superintendent or his/her designee within thirty (30) calendar days.
- A citizen, unable to attend a Board of Education meeting, may submit written comments or remarks regarding agenda items or non-agenda items to the Superintendent and the Board. If requested the citizen will receive a written response from the Superintendent or his/her designee within thirty (30) calendar days.