The Carroll County Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to limit the number of public speakers at meetings to a maximum 15.
The updated policy also requires speakers to register online in advance, gives board members the right to correct misinformation presented as facts, and asks members of the audience to be respectful.
No one signed up as a public speaker for November’s monthly board meeting Wednesday.
“I know there’s been a lot of discussion, how evil we are not to let people make public comment,” Board of Education President Kenneth Kiler said Wednesday, “but I think we give more opportunities than most systems. We give more opportunity than the state board does.”
The policy states that each of the 15 speakers will have three minutes to address the board and leaves the door open for additional speakers if the board allows.
During deliberations, the board decided to remove language that would create a second public comment period after the agenda’s action items. Board members considered allowing a total of 25 people to speak for up to two minutes two minutes each but decided against it.
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Edmund O’Mealy, legal counsel for the school board, said it is apparent some members of the public carefully rehearse timed speeches in advance.
Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Cynthia McCabe said if the number of requests exceeds 15, speakers will be selected by a staff member in a way that allows the board to hear all sides of an issue and prioritizes speakers addressing action items to be voted on during meetings.
The names of registered and selected speakers will be listed on the school board’s website, McCabe added.
The public is always invited to comment on issues via email and letters to the school board, Kiler said.
“I know we’ve had all kinds of comments, that we should listen to everybody,” board member Marsha Herbert said. “Trust me, you can call us, you can email us, you can text us, you can come to my house.”