Brevard School Board Introduces Measures to Shorten Public Comment Section
BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – The Brevard County School Board will soon be voting on new rules to tame its period of boisterous public commentary, which has sometimes extended meetings in recent months by several hours and required security intervention, according to the News partner 6 Florida Today.
The rules would allow the board to shorten speaking times when a large number of speakers are present, prevent speakers from raising signs during meetings and relegating public comments off the agenda until the end of the meeting. the meeting without broadcasting them.
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The school board discussed the policy in a policy working session on September 21 before a school board meeting. None of the council members disagreed with the policy, but measures such as allowing mothers with children present or BPS employees to speak first and prohibiting umbrellas large enough to be used as weapons were discussed.
The changes come in response to an influx of public speakers at board meetings. School board meetings sometimes have 40 or more speakers, most of whom focus on mask mandates, critical race theory, or other highly politicized issues, whatever the agenda, extending sometimes meetings last a few hours.
Speakers regularly clashed verbally with the board during the public comment sections, often shouting or refusing to leave the podium when their allotted time had expired. Some were taken away by security after being asked to leave.
School board president Misty Belford said the board’s general counsel had suggested policy changes to rule in the public comment section after the issue was raised during a board retreat in late August .
Not filming items not on the agenda could remove some of the incentive for public speakers to act, Belford said. She added that the board is not required to broadcast comments on items not on the agenda and that other countries have space for public input on matters not on the agenda. on the agenda without disseminating them.
“There is some consensus that this might reduce some of the… I would say, more robust behaviors,” Belford said.
Current rules limit public speaking time to three minutes at regular school board meetings. At some meetings, such as the emergency meeting that put in place the mask’s mandate and the special meeting where the school board will again discuss the mask policy, the board may further limit the comments of the masker. public. The 140 or so speakers who arrived at the August 30 meeting in which the mask’s mandate was voted on were limited to one minute each.
Depending on the proposed change, if there are 10 or fewer speakers, the speakers can address the board for up to three minutes. If there are 11-20 speakers, speakers can have two minutes, and if there are more than 20 speakers, each speaker will have one minute. The school board could also change the length of public speaking time during meetings.
Speakers addressing non-agenda items would speak after the meeting and their comments would not be broadcast. Signs in the boardroom should remain with one edge touching the floor so that they do not block the views of other members of the public.
If a speaker starts speaking on an off-agenda item during the agenda’s public comment period, the chair (usually the board chair) can stop their comment and move it to the off-agenda portion. of the meeting agenda.
The new policy could be approved on October 26 and take effect immediately.
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