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Comments to the Board

TIME, PLACE, AND MANNER RESTRICTIONS AND PROCEDURES FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS AND COMMENTS TO THE BOARD

Welcome.  The School Board welcomes input from community members, including letters, emails, and phone calls.  For those who prefer to address the School Board directly, the School Board typically sets aside up to thirty minutes for Comments to the Board at regular School Board meetings, but not at study sessions or special meetings.  Time for Comments to the Board at regular School Board meetings is not a requirement of the law; it is something the School Board chooses to provide.  The School Board would like to provide the community with some general information about Comments to the Board, including the purpose, the procedures that apply, and prohibited conduct. 

Purpose.  The purpose of Comments to the Board is to give community members an opportunity to provide input directly to the School Board about  issues that fall within the School Board’s authority.  To fulfill this purpose, comments must be directed to the School Board.  Comments to the Board is not a time for citizens to speak to the community or to the audience.  For this reason, Comments to the Board will not be recorded or live streamed. 

Written Request to Speak.  Individuals who want to speak during Comments to the Board must submit a written request to speak before 3:00 p.m. on the day of the School Board meeting.  Requests must be submitted by email to the following email address: meseverson@rochesterschools.org. 

The written request must state:  (1) the individual’s name, (2) the individual’s home address, (3) whether the individual has a child attending school in the District, (4) whether the individual is employed by the District, (5) whether the individual is a student in the District, and (6) whether the individual is a local property taxpayer to Rochester Public Schools. 

 Number of Speakers and Time Limits.  Ten individuals will be scheduled to speak at Comments to the Board at the July 27 and August 3 meetings. Beginning at the August 17 meeting, eight individuals will be scheduled to speak. Individuals will be scheduled in the order of when the written request to speak was received. Comments to the Board will be held open for up to thirty (30) minutes in total.  This time limit is necessary in order to ensure that the School Board is able to conduct its business during the meeting in an orderly, efficient, and timely fashion.  Each speaker is permitted to speak for up to three (3) minutes in total.  One speaker may not give time to another speaker.  Any person who does not get a chance to speak is encouraged to submit written comments to the School Board.  Email addresses for School Board members are listed on the District’s website. 

Speakers Must Be Recognized.  The School Board Chair will call speakers to the microphone and will recognize one speaker at a time.  Only those individuals who have been recognized by the School Board Chair will be allowed to speak during Comments to the Board.  The School Board Chair will rule out of order individuals who have not been recognized.

Cumulative Presentations.  Speakers are encouraged to avoid repeating comments that other speakers have made.  Redundant presentations are not helpful and can deprive other individuals of the opportunity to speak during Comments to the Board. 

Prohibited Conduct.  The following conduct is prohibited during a public School Board meeting, including during Comments to the Board:

  • Speakers may not discuss or disclose any private educational data on any current or former student as defined in Minnesota Statutes section 13.32.  As a result, speakers may not identify any current or former student during Comments to the Board.  The only exception is that a parent who is speaking may choose to discuss private educational data on his or her own child. 
  • Speakers may not make allegations, charges, or complaints against any student or employee.  If a person wishes to make an allegation or to file a charge or complaint against a student or employee, the person should make the allegation, charge, or complaint to the Superintendent in writing or in a private meeting, or to the individual designated in District policy to receive the allegation, charge, or complaint. 
  • Speakers may not make comments or gestures that are threatening, profane, lewd, vulgar, obscene, harassing, or abusive.
  • Speakers may not make personal attacks against others, including, but not limited to, any student, parent, community member, employee, or School Board member.
  • Speakers may not make comments that would violate federal or state law, including laws protecting the privacy rights of an individual. 
  • Speakers may not make comments related to pending contract negotiations or to pending litigation to which the District is a party, including grievance proceedings. 
  • Speakers may not campaign for or against a political candidate during any part of a public school board meeting. 
  • Speakers may not promote or advertise products that are for sale or purchase, unless the Board has invited the speaker to present on the product as an agenda item. Members of the public may not engage in conduct that materially and substantially disrupts any part of a School Board meeting, or that otherwise impedes the School Board’s ability to conduct its business in an orderly and efficient fashion.  The following are examples of conduct that is materially and substantially disruptive or that otherwise impedes the School Board’s ability to conduct its business in an orderly and efficient fashion: 
    • Making comments that incite violence;
    • Making comments that reasonably instill fear;
    • Interrupting a speaker who has been recognized by the School Board Chair;
    • Making comments from the audience when the person making comments has not been recognized by the School Board Chair;
    • Interrupting the School Board Chair or any other School Board member or school official who is speaking;
    • Holding up a sign or displaying a banner, regardless of the content of the sign or banner;
    • Clapping, cheering, booing, vocalizing approval, or vocalizing disapproval for a speaker during the speaker’s presentation, unless a School Board member or school official is presenting an award to a person or is describing an honor or award that a person received;
    • Addressing the audience rather than the School Board;
    • Bringing a weapon into the meeting room or onto school property, except as allowed under Minnesota law;
    • Violating room capacity requirements; and
    • Violating any law or District policy. 

Violations.  If a speaker violates any of established procedure or engages in any prohibited conduct, the Board Chair will rule the speaker out of order. 

  • If the speaker is presenting to the School Board, the Board Chair may require the speaker to immediately end his or her presentation. 
  • If the speaker persists in violating any procedure or rule, the speaker will be directed to leave the premises and not to return, a no trespass order may be issued, and a referral may be made to law enforcement. 
  • If repeated disruptions occur during Comments to the Board, the School Board Chair may call a recess and order that the room be cleared until the meeting resumes. 
  • If repeated disruptions occur, any School Board member may make a motion to immediately end Comments to the Board.  If the motion passes, citizens may use alternative avenues of communication to share their views with the School Board, including written communications.
  • If repeated disruptions occur during multiple meetings, the School Board may vote to suspend Comments to the Board at meetings and to require that all public comments be in writing. 

Disorderly Conduct.  The District will refer potential incidents of disorderly conduct to law enforcement.  Minnesota Statutes section 609.72 states: 

Whoever does any of the following in a public or private place . . . knowing, or having reasonable grounds to know that it will, or will tend to, alarm, anger or disturb others or provoke an assault or breach of the peace, is guilty of disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor:

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(3) engages in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or in offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others.

Superintendent Response After Comments to the Board.  Following Comments to the Board, the School Board Chair may ask the Superintendent or a designee to respond or provide clarifying information to the School Board.  As a general matter, the School Board will not act on any comments that were made during a meeting and do not relate directly to an agenda item for the meeting. 

Use of School Property.  All property of the District, including District parking lots and other grounds, are considered to be school property.  Individuals or groups may not use school property for any purpose that has not been authorized by the District.  Any use of school property must comply with District Policy 902 and all administrative procedures related to that policy.

In Person School Board Meetings

The Rochester Public School Board returned to in-person meetings on June 15, 2021. The District will attempt to arrange spaces to allow physical distancing. Sanitizing surfaces before meetings and between different users is strongly recommended, and materials to sanitize between presentations will be available. Staff who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear a face covering, but may wear one if they choose. All guests, including presenters, must sign in and out, in order for the District to keep a record of attendees. 

School Board meetings will also be live-streamed at YouTube.com/ISD535 for anyone wanting to watch a meeting live from their own location and/or watch a meeting playback.