(Forsyth County, GA) The Forsyth County Board of Education approved a new policy concerning public participation at Board meetings.
It was decided a new policy was needed after friction between parents and Board members during the public speaking sessions at meetings earlier this year resulted in parents being escorted out of the building.
On Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Board approved the following guidelines for participation in meetings:
- All attendees shall remember that while the meetings are open to the public, the purpose of the meeting is to conduct the business of the school system, and members of the public are invited to participate only as allowed by Board policy and these procedures.
- Members of the public shall conduct themselves in a respectful manner that is not disruptive to the conduct of the Board’s business. Signs, flags, and banners are prohibited inside the Board meeting room.
- Each member of the public participating in the public comment will be given three minutes to speak. The Board or its Chair may limit the total time allocated for public participation as well as further limit the length of individual comments during public participation at its discretion for the purpose of the efficient operation of the business of the meeting.
- Only residents of the School District, representatives of businesses or organizations located in the District, parents or guardians of students attending the schools of the District or school system employees may address the Board during public participation. No individual or group will be retaliated against, in any manner whatsoever, for speaking during public participation.
- The Board requests that multiple speakers from a group or organization appoint a single representative to address the Board.
- All speakers shall address the Board by first stating their names. All remarks shall be made to the Board as a body and addressed through the Chair. Remarks shall not be addressed to individual Board members.
- Speakers may bring printed and other supporting materials. These materials should be given to the Superintendent or Board Chair.
- Issues involving individual employees or individual students and pending litigation are not subjects for public participation. Where appropriate, the public is urged to follow other resolution processes set forth in Board policy or available at individual schools, where those processes are clearly designed to address the issue to be raised.
- Speakers are asked to keep their remarks civil. The use of obscene, profane, physically threatening, or abusive remarks will not be allowed. Loud and boisterous conduct or comments by speakers or members of the audience are not allowed.
- The Board will not respond to comments made by the speaker during public participation unless a member of the Board chooses to ask a question. Speakers should remain at the microphone while answering questions.
New Sex Ed Curriculum
Also, during the meeting, the Board learned about a proposed new sex education curriculum.
Director of Secondary Education Heather Gordy said the district has been using “Choosing the Best” since 2005 as the sex education curriculum. The program was funded by a grant, but the district had to supply student information to continue receiving the grant. Gordy said the district decided to create a new curriculum instead of providing the student information.
Professional Learning Specialist Kayla Duncan said the proposed curriculum only applies to middle and high school students.
“Our students' needs are different than they were in 2005,” Duncan said.
The district formed a committee, including parents and teachers, to determine items to feature in the curriculum.
The process is expected to be completed next spring with a pilot program being implemented.
Some of the core concepts in the program include abstinence, consent, health and puberty, and risky behavior. After the pilot program is completed, Duncan said the committee will hear information about the pilot program and then bring the issue to the school board next spring for approval and an implementation strategy.
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