Sen. Leising (the quixotic cursive crusader) has introduced SB 83 which mandates the opportunity for public comment at school board meetings. This is a reaction to the measures taken by school boards to deal with pro-COVID parents who objected to the idea of having to work with the community to limit the spread of COVID. Some members of the public not only disagreed with mask policies, they turned abusive and belligerent. When the Public Access Counselor was asked about how public bodies could comply with the Open Door Law and still get business done when civility broke down, the PAC observed that public comment was not required by the Open Door Law and eliminating the public comment period was one tool that boards could use when necessary.
[N]othing in the Indiana Open Door Law guarantees or even mentions the right to participate in the proceedings of a governing body much less interrupt…[G]overning bodies can choose whether to extend the courtesy of a comment forum, and therefore revoke it if misused. Tumult, disorder, and disturbance on the part of the audience should not be tolerated by a board, council, or commission. This office does, and will always, advocate for a meaningful public comment opportunity at public meetings, if practical. Ultimately, however, a public comment forum during a meeting is a privilege and a courtesy extended by a governing body to the public.
Sen. Leising’s bill does not have much to say about the public comment period she would require school boards to provide. Certainly, it does not give schools any tools to deal with interruption, tumult, disorder, or disturbances. This legislation could be read as a sanction for using such tactics as a means by which to influence public policy. By the same token, however, the legislation says nothing about rules the school board could use to regulate the public comment period. “You have ten seconds and comment must be germane to agenda items. Go!” Any rules on public comment used to ensure order is maintained will no doubt be decried as tyranny. But, I suppose once everything is tyranny, then nothing is tyranny.
Does that woman even know what she is essentially endorsing ? I could see perhaps passing some laws establishing the type of conduct legally tolerated in a public venue,making new protections for board members,administrators,and educators from the sort of abuse that continues to drive people from their positions,,or even creating a different form of
public comment making- but not ENABLING the frankly dangerous insanity going on! I
never thought I would see so many adults behaving in such atrocious ways during a school board meeting-(or even that many parents taking the time to show up). Some of the behavior and language was so obscene, disrespectful,and downright threatening,I found myself legitimately concerned for the very kids these people were claiming to speak on behalf of. I cannot imagine the home atmosphere in some of the cases. It was not only the Board members who were in the crosshairs,but other parents who were calmly expressing an opposing view,and even to a few students who came to voice their own opinions. Once outside,some of the individual parents who had not been in the pro covid or pro bigoted groups, reported being verbally intimidated by what appeared to be intoxicated ( apparent fathers?). These dudes were within the other parents’ physical space,blocking their vehicles,etc. There were 1 maybe 2 officers in or outside of some of the events,but the crowds were both inside and outside and so loud, it was nearly impossible to know what was happening where and which people were the aggressors. What sickens me is that those belligerent folks had full confidence that they were “untouchable” anyway-( any dudes standing there with confederate flags or similar,shouting profanities in the face of other people,( many of which were women or people of color),and doing so in eyeshot of a uniformed officer,DEFINITELY believes he is entitled to privileges not afforded to everyone. I will not go near a school board meeting with that thuggery any time soon. Too much.
Steve Bannon stated that the Republican’s can win the election by pushing critical race theory, bigender and any other so called social issues. The threatened white politicians have figured out this is their way to keep power. No one really wanted all of this crap. You can lay it all on right wing media and Trump. Democracy no longer matters to the far right on their power to rewrite the laws of the United States in the name of the Bible (well at least their version of it) and all minorites be damned. The Democrats need to find issues that people truly care about (previous post) and laugh at the social issues. Plus stating suing teachers (don’t say School Districts) is so crazy and unpatriotic . Frame it as suing great teachers you had in school. Can you imagine suing a teacher (go after the politicians that supported this craziness) that have taken low paying jobs to do a job they love.