SHAWANO, Wis. (WFRV) – School boards have a limited ability to restrict public comment, but according to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards these restrictions can’t be done arbitrarily and can’t discriminate against a particular viewpoint.
Local 5 News reached out to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to ask questions about public comment policy after many people at the Shawano School Board meeting on Monday night were upset when school board president Michael Sleeper didn’t allow everybody who wanted to speak to do so.
The Wisconsin Association of School Boards official we spoke to emphasized that he can’t speak specifically on a particular situation like what happened in Shawano, but said that school boards don’t have a legal obligation to provide public comment at meetings.
The school board president said the board made the decision to not allow everybody who had signed up for public comment to speak in order to avoid redundant topics and everything they did complies with board policy. He said the board consulted its legal counsel before making this decision.
Per School Board policy, it says people can’t personally attack an individual board member during public comment. This is why the school board wouldn’t allow a parent group to present them with a petition asking for the removal of superintendent Randi Anderson.
Parents Local 5 News spoke to said that regardless of board policy, they feel like the school board restricting public comment undermines any goodwill efforts by the board or district administration to be more communicative to and transparent with the community.