Members of the public are encouraged to attend Board meetings and to address the Board concerning any item on the agenda or within the Board's jurisdiction. So as not to inhibit public participation, persons attending Board meetings shall not be requested to sign in, complete a questionnaire, or otherwise provide their name or other information as a condition of attending the meeting.
In order to conduct district business in an orderly and efficient manner, the Board requires that public presentations to the Board comply with the following procedures:
- The Board shall give members of the public an opportunity to address the Board on any item of interest to the public that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Board, either before or during the Board's consideration of the item. (Education Code 35145.5, Government Code 54954.3)
- At a time so designated on the agenda at a regular meeting, members of the public may bring before the Board matters that are not listed on the agenda. The Board shall take no action or discussion on any item not appearing on the posted agenda, except as authorized by law. (Education Code 35145.5, Government Code 54954.2)
- At the end of Public Comment on items not on the agenda and without taking action, Board members or district staff members may briefly respond to statements made or questions posed by the public about items not appearing on the agenda. Additionally, on their own initiative or in response to questions posed by the public, a Board or staff member may ask a question for clarification, make a brief announcement, or make a brief report on his/her own activities. (Government Code 54954.2)
Furthermore, the Board or a Board member may provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual information, ask staff to report back to the Board at a subsequent meeting concerning any matter, or take action directing staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda. (Government Code 54954.2)
- The Board need not allow the public to speak on any item that has already been considered by a committee composed exclusively of Board members at a public meeting where the public had the opportunity to address the committee on that item. However, if the Board determines that the item has been substantially changed since the committee heard the item, the Board shall provide an opportunity for the public to speak. (Government Code 54954.3)
- A person wishing to be heard by the Board shall first be recognized by the President and shall then proceed to comment as briefly as the subject permits.
Individual speakers shall be allowed up to three minutes to address the Board on each agenda item or once during the time allotted for public comment on items not on the agenda. Individuals who wish to speak a second time must wait until the time near the end of the agenda for "Unfinished Requests to Address the Board." The Board shall limit the total time for public input on each item to 30 minutes. With Board consent, the President may increase or decrease the time allowed for public presentation, depending on the topic and the number of persons wishing to be heard. Requests must be submitted prior to the beginning of the agenda item. The President may take a poll of speakers for or against a particular issue and may ask that additional persons speak only if they have something new to add. As a general rule, the Board will allow three minutes each for up to 15 speakers. If there are more than 15 speakers, the Board will allow one minute for as many speakers who have submitted a request to address the Board by the beginning of that agenda item. When translation of the comments of a speaker is required, the President may allow a reasonable amount of time for a translator to summarize the comments of the speaker. The time for translation will not exceed the amount of time allowed to the speaker.
- The Board President may rule on the appropriateness of a topic. If the topic would be more suitably addressed at a later time, the President may indicate the time and place when it should be presented.
The Board shall not prohibit public criticism of its policies, procedures, programs, services, acts, or omissions. (Government Code 54954.3) In addition, the Board may not prohibit public criticism of district employees.
Whenever a member of the public initiates specific complaints or charges against an employee, the Board President shall inform the complainant that in order to protect the employee's right to adequate notice before a hearing of such complaints and charges, and also to preserve the ability of the Board to legally consider the complaints or charges in any subsequent evaluation of the employee, it is the policy of the Board to hear such complaints or charges in closed session unless otherwise requested by the employee pursuant to Government Code 54957. The Board President shall also encourage the complainant to file a complaint using the appropriate district complaint procedure.
- The Board President shall not permit any disturbance or willful interruption of Board meetings. Persistent disruption by an individual or group shall be grounds for the President to terminate the privilege of addressing the Board. The Board has the power under the Brown Act to clear the meeting room and continue in session if a situation arises where the meeting is so willfully interrupted that order cannot be restored by removing those individuals responsible for the conduct. Non-disruptive media personnel have the right to come back and attend the meeting. Based on the disruptive behavior that has interrupted the Board's ability to conduct its business, the meeting may be temporarily suspended. The Board will reconvene in a separate room to continue this meeting. Non-disruptive media personnel will be admitted. When the room is ordered cleared due to a disturbance, further Board proceedings shall concern only matters appearing on the agenda. (Government Code 54957.9)