Public Comment Removed From SK SC Work Sessions

The latest post from Jonathan Daly-Labelle's blog.

The following phrase has been eliminated from the standard South Kingstown School Commitee Work Session agenda:

“Interested persons and the public at large will be given a fair opportunity to be heard at said meeting on the items proposed on the agenda. Questions or comments will be limited to a total of three (3) minutes unless otherwise voted by the School Committee.”

For as long as I have been involved, this stock phrase has been a part of the work sessions.  It was not part of the Sept. 25 session, and neither the Chair, nor any of the members, allowed or called for the four or five community members in attendance to speak to the agenda item – PARCC Assessment.

This was not part of the bylaw amendments recently enacted.  This appears to be an distinctly separate move, and I'm unsure if a vote by the school committee was needed (or taken) for this change.

This is the way to “Engage All Stakeholders” and encourage, welcome, and respect public participation?

Oh, my… What’s next?

Editor’s note – The views of Jonathan are strictly his own, and do not necessarily reflects the thoughts and opinions of Narragansett-South Kingstown Patch editors. Post adapted from the original entry on his blog, with his permission, with minor edits for style and grammar.

Want your own commentary published? Send it to stephen.greenwell@patch.com.

Wind in the Willows October 03, 2012 at 05:42 PM
The intimidation continues.... Maureen Cotter dislikes the public comment portion of the SC meetings and she always has. She has actually created a sub committee meeting structure to "do the business" of the committee out of the view of the public, she has put herself on two of the three as a "community" member thus giving them a quorum. An argument could be made that they are all in violation of the open meetings act. A clever device employed to make decisions without having to put up with the taxpayers footing the bills. The school committee needs all new members... let the sunshine in. Give JDL your vote people.
Jonathan Daly-LaBelle October 04, 2012 at 01:08 AM
A couple items to note - 1. those who are displeased with how the School Committee is clamping down on, and eliminating interaction with, the public in public meetings, please note there is general comment at this Tuesday's SC meeting. Even if they won't respond, it can be valuable to get your concerns on the record. 2. For additional dialogue between myself and a current SC member/candidate, please reference back to my blog for the original thread. I believe it will give readers additional insights into the perspectives of two SC members who are on this November's ballot.
Govstench October 04, 2012 at 02:01 AM
If public comment is being muted, that is not open transparent government. Those on these boards who have voted for this should be shown the door in November.
David Napier October 08, 2012 at 03:42 PM
The election can't happen soon enough.
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