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Lycée devises rules for public comment

Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans parents may soon have to abide by a new public comment policy at board meetings.

At a school known for its parent engagement, Lycée parents will have a chance to weigh in on the policy recommended by the governance and compliance committee.

The committee, which approved the policy Thursday, will make that recommendation to the charter school’s full board of directors on Monday.

Parents have been actively engaged with board activity, especially during the tumultuous last year in which the entire board membership changed as well as the school’s leadership.

The new policy would allow individuals to address the board for up to three minutes regarding a specific agenda item. The board would have the discretion to extend a person’s time.

A limit of 30 minutes would be placed on all comments for each agenda item, though that too could be extended by the board.

Members discussed a draft policy provided by committee member and attorney Michael Higgins, amending it in a few places and ultimately approving it.

The committee also took under advisement a public comment from parent Paula Griffin, who raised concerns over educating parents about the new policy.

“We want it to be user-friendly,” she said at Thursday’s committee meeting.

And after some discussion the committee amended its recommendation to include a sentence summarizing the policy on each meeting agenda. They also will likely post the full policy at each meeting, should it be adopted.

The public comment policy, as approved by the committee reads:

Individuals who desire to speak on an agenda item before that item is voted on by the Board may do so by submitting a fully completed and signed “Speaker’s Card” and submitting it to the Vice-Chair or Secretary of the Board prior to the start of the public comment period for that agenda item.  After the public comment period for that agenda item has begun, any further requests to address the Board may be denied at the discretion of the Board Chair.  In the case of a delegation wishing to address the Board, each delegation shall select one of its members to be its speaker and identify the speaker on the submitted Speaker’s Card.  Comments by any speaker shall be strictly limited to the agenda item before the Board.  Scheduled and unscheduled comment periods shall be limited to a total of one half-hour (30 minutes) with individual speakers limited to three (3) minutes, unless otherwise decided by the Board Chair.  Speakers shall refrain from making accusatory or defamatory comments about individuals by name.  Speakers who violate this policy may be denied the opportunity to continue to address the Board during the meeting.  The Board shall include a reference to this policy on future agendas.

The full board will meet Nov. 11 and consider the new policy as part of its scheduled meeting.


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About Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned to New Orleans in the fall of 2014 after covering education for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in journalism and social welfare and a concentration in educational policy studies.

  • Lee Barrios

    I don’t believe the law allows a 30 minute limit if all citizens wishing to speak have not spoken.

  • nickelndime

    This is another unusual thing about Lycee: The public (e.g., parents) shows up for meetings. And not only do they show up, but they ask questions and want to comment and participate in the decision-making process. How unusual! Except for THE LENS reporters, most nonprofit charter boards do not see or talk to parents or the public (community, business, etc.). And sadly, I think many outrageously-paid administrators want to keep it that way. Unfortunately, these boards misinterpret what is going on and think, “no news is good news.” It’s the opposite. If these boards and committees see only themselves, this means there are already problems in the operation of a school. And think about this: Generally, it takes the State 3-5 years to close or take over mismanaged/failing (acdemic, financial) schools. That’s a long time for management to get $100,000 salaries. And that’s a long time in students’ academic careers.

  • nickelndime

    BTW, I think that changes (in policy, charters, etc.) which board committees propose and want to make effective (by board vote) should be open to a majority vote by all of the charter school’s stakeholders instead. If it is that important, let the stakeholders vote. Gawd knows that many are technologically proficient, and if they are not, have management put the “stuff” in print and let parents vote. I am sick of these nonprofit boards (and management) playing god with students’ lives because they think they know better than anyone else. Lee, I agree. The law and 30 minute limits!?? Most of these nonprofit boards think they operate outside the law anyway (skirt around it, gray areas, dillydally, etc.), and rely on attorneys to tell them how to be legally evasive (be slippery and elusive). Enough games.