Quiet meeting as SACS board adjusts public speaker rules

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Without masks on the agenda, the Tuesday meeting of the Southwest Allen County Schools (SACS) board was free from fighting or heated discussion.

The board passed a new policy to help keep future meetings equally civil.

Before mask discussions, SACS meetings were usually not much of a public draw and were rarely contentious.

“Usually (public discussion) is on items of very little community interest,” said Superintendent Park Ginder, Ph.D. “Mostly it’s the football coach, the basketball coach, the color of the uniforms, why the show choir didn’t compete in this, that or the other thing. They’re generally things that don’t impact everybody.”

The goal is to permit “fair and orderly public expression.” In order to address the board, a person would need:

  • To sign up before the start of the meeting
  • Be recognized by the board
  • State their name, address and group affiliation
  • Speak for no more than three minutes

The chair is able to interrupt, warn or terminate a statement if the speaker is too lengthy or abusive, obscene or irrelevant. The person can also be asked to leave.

Public input will be limited to 30 minutes. The chair can choose a representative to speak on each side of an issue if the board receives numerous requests to speak on the same topic.

Only one person spoke at Tuesday’s meeting to ask the board to clarify the policy that had been approved minutes earlier.

“He asked what triggers a need for equal representation and what method would be used to make sure that equal representation is available,” Ginder said. “Nobody asked those questions last week at discussion so we have some things to think about.”

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