Public Participation at B-W Board Meetings Item to Be Voted on Next Week
Revisions will be voted on at the next meeting.
Public Participation at Board Meetings Item to Be Voted on Next Week
The Baldwin-Whitehall School Board will vote on Nov. 9 on revisions to its policy that details who is permitted to speak at its meetings.
After it was learned that a district bus driver was incorrectly silenced due to a contradiction in Baldwin-Whitehall School District policy at an Oct. 5 school board meeting, the board has since discussed revisions to its policy, first revealed on Oct. 12.
The revised policy would void the following sentence: “The Board requires that public participants be residents or taxpayers of this district or anyone representing a group in the community or school district, any representative of a firm eligible to bid on materials or services solicited by the Board, any district employee, or any district student.”
And, after this sentence, “ ... The Board shall provide an opportunity at each open meeting of the Board for residents and taxpayers to comment on matters of concern, official action or deliberation before the Board prior to official action by the Board,” it would add this sentence, “Other persons wishing to speak at a public meeting may request permission to do so.”
The board continued to debate the item on Wednesday night.
“I don’t like the fact that someone getting up to speak is going to be censored before I hear them,” board member Nancy Lee Crowder said. “ … We have a lot of employees that live in our district, and then, you have a lot of employees that live out of the district. So, how is it fair that the employees that live here can come in and speak about being an employee, but an employee who doesn’t live here can’t come and speak about being an employee? … I don’t like that being taken out of there (district policy).”
Fellow board member Martin Michael Schmotzer disagreed.
“There’s a pecking order,” Martin Schmotzer said. “I, as an employee, would never just come out of left field and get up (to speak at a board meeting)—even if I lived in the district … without exhausting any possible avenue I could, whether it be through internal (means) or even reaching out to board members on an individual basis …
“If you’re a (B-W district) taxpayer, you have the right to sit in that audience (and) to get up and complain about things—and the obligation in my opinion. But if you live outside of this school district, go complain about (your own) school district. Don’t complain about ours …
“If they (employees) have a personnel issue, it should be going up the chain of command.”
Board members John B. Schmotzer and Kevin J. Fischer sided with Martin Schmotzer and voiced their support of the proposed revisions.
Fischer said that, were board members to manage employees directly, the employees would not like it very much and that allowing employees to take concerns directly to the school board would be a similar practice.
“I see no need for that when there is a process (already in place),” Fischer said.
Board member Kevin A. Stiffey disagreed with the revisions, saying that they could prohibit non-resident employees from saying something positive about the district.
Stiffey also said, “People give their lives to work in this district. They should be allowed to say something about this district.”
Check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch later on Thursday for more odds and ends from Wednesday night’s school board meeting.