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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.

In addition to utilizing public comment, members of the public are welcome to contact school board members via email, phone, or mail. Contact information is available on the school website. 

  1. Purpose of Public Comment

The Falmouth School Board finds great value to public participation and access to school board meetings.  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.

  1. Public Comment Periods

Public comment will only be entertained at the following points:

  1. During regular business meetings, within each item of new business.  Comments made at this time must pertain to the specific agenda item.

  2. During regular business meetings, in the public comment section 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.

  4. During committee meetings, public comment will be permitted on agenda topics at the discretion of the committee chair.

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 for no more than three minutes on each item of new business. General public comment will be limited to three minutes per speaker, 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. Individuals will be required to state their full name and address and affiliation with the schools before addressing the Board. 

  4. All speakers shall address the Chairperson. 

  5. In order to allow all board members, meeting participants, remote and delayed viewers equal access to public comment information, visual aids or handouts are not permitted. Assistive technology and/or notes for the speaker’s use is permitted. 

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

  7. In order to maintain an orderly meeting, spontaneous comments and applause from the audience are not allowed.

  8. Discussion of personnel matters is not permitted during the public comment period due to the privacy, confidentiality and due process rights of school district employees. For purposes of this policy, “discussion of a personnel matter” means any discussion of job performance or conduct of a school district employee, including complaints or positive/complimentary comments about them.

  9. Discussion of matters involving individual students are also not permitted during the public comment period due to the privacy, confidentiality, and due process rights of the school districts’ students.

  10. 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).

  11. Any concerns about personnel matters and/or student matters should be directed to the Superintendent or another appropriate administrator outside of Board meetings so that they can be addressed through an alternative channel and in a manner consistent with privacy, confidentiality, and due process rights of the individuals involved.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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
BED - Remote Access to Board Meetings
BEDD - Conduct of Board Meetings, Procedural Rules 
JRA – Student Records and Information
KEB - Complaints about School Personnel 

Legal References:

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
M.R.S.A. §403-B
M.R.S.A. §406

Adopted: April 9, 2007


November 15, 2010
October 18, 2012
December 19, 2022
October 16, 2023