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BEDH - Public Participation at Board Meetings

The Falmouth School Board is elected by the citizens of Falmouth to serve as agents of the Maine Legislature in carrying out those duties and responsibilities assigned to school boards as defined by state law. Falmouth School Board meetings are not public forum meetings (as are town meetings), but are meetings which are held for the Board to do its business in public. In order to ensure that School Department stakeholders may be heard on matters relating to school policies, programs and operations, and, at the same time, ensure that the Board may conduct its meetings properly and efficiently, the Falmouth School Board adopts the following procedures which shall govern public participation at School Board meetings.

  1. Purpose of Public Comment
    The School Board allows public comment at its meetings to enable individuals to address the Board on matters within the scope of the Board’s responsibility.

  2. Public Comment Periods
    Public comment will only be entertained at the following points:

    1. During regular business meetings, immediately prior to the business section of the agenda. Comments made at this time must pertain to agenda items (i.e., those topics listed as business items for that meeting and which require board action), except on items which relate to individual employment decisions.

    2. During regular business meetings, at the public comment section at the end of the agenda. Comments made at this time must pertain directly to the specific operations, management, policies, educational practices, and/or governance of the Falmouth School Department.

    3. During workshop meetings, when the Board requests comments on specific workshop topics. Comments made during workshop meetings are permitted only when requested by the Board and any such comments must pertain directly to the topic on which the School Board is seeking public input.

  3. General Requirements Governing Public Comment
    All members of the public will observe the following requirements when offering public comment. Failure to abide by these requirements will result in termination of the speaker’s statements by the Chairperson, who has the authority to determine the appropriateness of comments.

    1. In order to make efficient use of limited time, individuals shall be permitted to speak once on a given topic for no more than 3 minutes (except when permitted by the Chairperson or by a vote of the Board).

    2. Speakers must be recognized by the Chairperson before addressing the Board.

    3. Spontaneous comments from the audience are not allowed.

    4. Individuals will be required to state their full name and address before addressing the Board.

    5. All speakers shall address the Chairperson and direct questions or comments to particular Board members or the Superintendent only with approval of the Chairperson.

    6. Comments which are vulgar, profane, obscene, threatening, or disruptive will not be tolerated at School Board meetings.

    7. Individual employees and/or employee groups will not be permitted to discuss matters for which other, more appropriate forums are provided (e.g., the grievance procedures set forth in a collective bargaining agreement).

    8. Consistent with Board Policies, Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, and the federal and state confidentiality laws, the School Board does not permit any public comment regarding individual employees or students. Members of the public who have concerns about school employees or students must utilize the School Department’s procedures available to address such concerns.

    9. In order to ensure the orderly conduct of the business of the School Board, the Chairperson may limit the time allotted for comments on a particular topic as well as the time each individual may speak. In the event of a sizable audience, the Chairperson may require persons interested in speaking to sign up so they may be called on in the most expedient order.

    10. The Chairperson has the authority to interrupt and terminate a participant’s statement when the statement exceeds the allotted time, when the statement falls outside the purpose and scope of this policy, or when the statement is threatening, vulgar, profane, obscene, disruptive, redundant or irrelevant.

    11. Persons who disrupt the meeting or fail to comply with these rules may be asked to leave the public meeting, and the Chairperson may request law enforcement assistance if necessary to restore order. The Chairperson may also call for a recess or an adjournment to another time when an individual’s comments or behavior so interferes with the orderly conduct of the meeting as to warrant such action.

  4. School Board or School Department Response to Comments or Questions

Members of the public should not expect an immediate answer to a question or a response to public comment. At the discretion of board members, issues or questions may be referred to the appropriate member or administrator for future response.

Except in an emergency as determined by the Superintendent and School Board Chair, the School Board will not take action on an issue before the superintendent has had an opportunity to research the issue and make recommendations to the School Board.


Cross References:

BE – School Board Meetings
BEC - Executive Sessions
BEDB - Agenda
JRA – Student Records and Information
KEB - Complaints about School Personnel
Title 1, M.R.S.A. § 405
Title 20-A, M.R.S.A. §1001
Title 20-A, M.R.S.A. §6001
Title 20-A, M.R.S.A. §6101
Title 26, M.R.S.A. § 631


Adopted: April 9, 2007

Revised: November 15, 2010, October 18, 2011