BEDH – Public Participation at Board Meetings

The primary purpose of School Board meetings is to conduct the business of the Board as it relates to school policies, programs and operations. The Board encourages residents – including our students – to attend Board meetings so that they may become acquainted with the operation and programs of the schools. All official meetings of the Board shall be open to the press and public. However, the Board reserves the right to meet and to adjourn or recess a meeting at any time. The Board also reserves the right to enter non-public session at any time, in accordance with the provisions RSA 91-A:3 II.

In order to assure that persons who wish to appear before the Board may be heard and, at the same time, it may conduct its meetings properly and efficiently, the Board adopts as policy the following procedures and rules pertaining to public participation at Board meetings:

1. Each regular meeting of the Board should have two periods of public comment.
2. The first period of public comment should be prior to the Superintendent’s Report.
3. The second period of public comment should be following New Business.
4. Each speaker will be given 2 minutes to speak. Speakers may not relinquish allotted time to another speaker. This period may be extended by a majority vote of the Board. If the 2-minute period is extended for one speaker, it must be extended for all.
5. The same person may address the Board only once during the same meeting, a second opportunity may be provided by a majority vote of the Board.
6. Consistent with RSA 91-A:3 and the laws pertaining to student and family privacy rights, the Board will not place any matter on the public agenda that is to be properly discussed in a non-public session. Complaints regarding individual employees, personnel, or students, will be directed to the Superintendent in accord with policies KE and KEB.
7. All speakers are to conduct themselves in a civil manner. Speakers may not use threats of physical violence, may not speak or conduct themselves in a way that incites violence or is disruptive, may not be vulgar or obscene, and need to speak to business related to the School Board and operations of the District. The School Board will not permit repetitive, harassing, or frivolous speech or comments that are off topic, antagonistic, obscene, or libelous as such statements will be considered out of order and will not be tolerated. The Board Chair may terminate the speaker’s privilege of address if the speaker does not follow this rule of order. Repeated refusals to comply will result in removal from the meeting.

During these public comment periods, members of the public are allowed to address the Board. However, it is not a question and answer period. In general, the Board will not answer questions asked or respond to comments made by members of the public. Persons appearing before the Board are reminded that members of the Board are without authority to act independently as individuals in official matters. Thus, in most instances, any Board response will be deferred pending consideration by the full Board. In addition, although staff of the District are also members of the public, there are specific Board policies in place – notably GBD – that establishes that the appropriate channel of communication between District staff and the Board is through the Superintendent.

Members of the public – including our students – are strongly encouraged to ask questions or provide comments to the Board and the Administration. However, the best way to ensure your questions are addressed is by submitting those questions to the members of the Board or to the Administration, via email, phone call, or regular mail.

All of the agendas and minutes of the Board meetings and all of the committees are posted on the Board’s website. Committee meetings are also open to the public, but there are no public comment periods at those meetings. The Chair of the individual committees may, at their sole discretion, allow members of the public to comment at committee meetings.

Legal Reference:
RSA 91-A:2, Meetings Open to Public
RSA 91-A:3, Non-Public Sessions

Category: R
See also KE, KEB

1st Read: March 16, 2021
2nd Read: April 6, 2021

Proposed Revision: March 2021

1st Read: September 6, 2022
2nd Read: September 20, 2022
Adopted: September 20, 2022