Frederick Board of Education Improves Public Comment Opportunities

The Frederick County Board of Education is altering how the public can offer feedback, improving the existing system, and increasing opportunities.

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The Frederick County Board of Education has made a series of adjustments to the process by which the public can offer feedback to the local school system. The changes will go into effect at the August 9 meeting of the Board.

A press release explains what is staying and what is new:

What is the Same
Public comment will continue to be an opportunity for the Board to listen to community members. It will not be a question-and-answer platform between the public and Board members.

Public comment must be on issues related to the school system. Comments cannot pertain to individual personnel issues, complaints identifying individual students, matters that are on appeal, or advertising or solicitations for products or services.

What is New

Time allocated for public comment

  • A maximum of 60 minutes will be provided, with 15 minutes for student comments and 45 minutes for general public comments.
  • No additional time will be added for public comment at the end of Board meetings.

Pre-Registration

  • Community members will be able to pre-register for public comment.
  • Pre-registration will open five days in advance of each scheduled Board meeting with the public posting of the meeting agenda.
  • Community members who wish to provide public comment can pre-register during the five-day registration period by calling 301-696-6965 or by completing the public comment form, which will be accessible via FCPS.org.
  • Pre-registration will close two days before the scheduled Board meeting.
  • Those wishing to make public comment will have to provide a name, contact information, if the speaker is a student or not, the topic to be discussed and if an interpreter or accommodation is requested with information identifying the specific need.

Same-Day/Walk-In Registration

  • Those that do not pre-register may sign-up for public comment 30 minutes prior to the start of the regular evening meeting.
  • Speakers will be asked to provide the same information as those who pre-register by completing the registration form electronically on a device provided by the Board.
  • Registration will close no later than five minutes before the start of the meeting.

Allotment of Public Comment Slots

  • All speakers – individuals or those representing an organization – will be limited to three minutes for their public comments.
  • Ten public comment speaker slots will be reserved for those who pre-register.  If fewer than 10 individuals pre-register, the remaining slots will be allocated to same-day/walk-in public comments.
  • Five general public comment slots will be reserved for same-day/walk-in public comments.
  • Five public comment speaker slots will be reserved for students.  If fewer than 5 students wish to speak, the remaining slots will be allocated to same-day/walk-in public comments.

Selection Process

  • Slots will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • To ensure equity of access and opportunity for public comment, if the number of individuals who request to speak exceeds available slots, speakers who have spoken at the most recent Board meeting will be rotated to the bottom of the sign-up list as to not unduly favor when an individual signs up.

Notification

  • The day prior to each identified Board meeting, individuals who were allocated a confirmed slot will be notified via email and asked to confirm their availability.
  • The day prior to each identified Board meeting, individuals who were not allocated a public comment slot will be notified via email.

Written Comments

  • Individuals are provided the opportunity to and are encouraged to submit written comments electronically and email them to the address indicated on the Board’s website (https://www.fcps.org/boe/meeting-schedule).
    • Written comments must be submitted as a PDF attachment (strongly preferred) or a Microsoft Word document with the .doc or .docx extension and will be uploaded to BoardDocs as part of the official meeting record.
    • Comments in the body of an email will not be accepted.

Disruptive Conduct

  • If any individual fails to comply with these procedures, the Board president may take action to ensure compliance, such as ordering the person to leave the public meeting or adjourn the meeting.
  • Visual demonstrations such as the waiving of placards, signs, or banners, or other behavior may not obstruct the view of audience members and may be restricted at the discretion of the Board.