After discussing a new public participation policy for school board meetings during the last two monthly meetings, the Camdenton school board voted to add a new policy on Monday night.
The board was presented two different drafts during their September meeting.
Following the August meeting, Susan Goldammer, Attorney and Senior Director at the Missouri School Boards Association, completed two drafts for the board to review. Goldammer was present at the August meeting and explained the board's public participation options to them then.
Since the September meeting, four board members sent comments to Superintendent Tim Hadfield supporting version two of the draft.
During the October board meeting, two members spoke out in opposition to version two.
Laura Martin began the discussion by saying, "I will have to agree to disagree."
Version two of the policy states, "Only items from the posted agenda may be discussed."
Martin said she feels this rule limits community participation. Board member John Beckett agreed with her.
"I just think we need to open the lines up with our community as much as we can as far as communicating with them," Beckett said.
"People just want to be heard," Martin chimed in. "We are public servants here and people need to feel like we heard them."
Other board members agreed that lines of communication should be opened up with the community but feel like allowing patrons to speak on anything could lead to a sticky situation for the district. When Goldammer visited the district, she recommended that the board only allow public participation on agenda items in order to protect the district and so that board members are prepared for the discussion.
The new policy allows the board to vote to suspend the rules for an "extraordinary circumstance" if needed.
The draft explains the channel that grievances should be dealt with in the district. First, the issue should be brought to teachers, administrators and other staff before bringing it to the board.
It also states, "The Board may refuse to hear an issue that has not been brought through the appropriate channels."
Anyone wanting to communicate with the board is encouraged to write directly to them. The draft says that any written correspondence addressed to the board will be given to all board members. The written correspondence is limited to no more than two pages and a member can request that an issue brought to their attention by written correspondence be placed on the agenda for the next regular board meeting.
Agenda items are to be received at least seven days before a scheduled meeting.
The draft includes a section that states, "The Board does not guarantee that it will hear any agenda item and reserves the right to refuse to hear an agenda item, particularly upon the advice of legal counsel or if the subject was discussed in a previous meeting."
Page 2 of 2 - With a four to two vote, the board approved to add version two as their new public participation policy. Beckett and Martin voted against the policy and Nancy Masterson was absent from the meeting.