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Board Public Comment Policy

Since day one, my campaign platform has included increased public input and transparency in the meetings of the Board of Education. At the July meeting, without any public input, the Wicomico Board of Education approved a new Public Comments Protocol Policy. Previously members of the public could sign up before the meeting started for a three-minute slot during the public comments portion of the meeting. This is a similar process to both the Salisbury City Council and the Wicomico County Council.

Now members of the public who wish to make public comments must sign up online during a window beginning seven days prior to the meeting and closing 24 hours before the meeting. Members of the public can no longer sign up, on site, just before the meeting starts. In addition, the Board has limited the number of speakers to ten and will randomly draw names if more than ten sign up.

This policy restricts the public’s ability to provide meaningful input to the Board of Education. In addition, the meeting agenda is often not posted until later in the seven-day window, therefore further reducing the public’s ability to provide input on topics that will be discussed at that meeting.

If elected, I would advocate to reverse this policy and seek new public comment opportunities. I believe in the process utilized by other government bodies where proposed policy changes, other than emergencies, are made public prior to a vote, allowing for a public input period. Keep in mind, this policy change was made with a motion to approve by my opponent, Ann Suthowski.

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