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Letter to the Editor | Allowing public comments at West Bend School Board meetings | By Jody Geenen

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April 18, 2020 – West Bend, WI – The West Bend School Board meeting on April 13 was a splendid example of what can be accomplished when stakeholders publicly speak up.

The school board violated Policy 187 by announcing in the original agenda that “The topic for comments must [in italics] pertain to an agenda item for that evening’s meeting.”

That same agenda violated Policy 151 by fast-tracking a change to Policy 187 “to remove ‘other items’” from public comment at future meetings that did not pertain to the agenda, because it was not first recommended at a public policy meeting.

Although the agenda was amended, per my request, to allow all comments within the scope of the school board for the April 13 meeting, they refused to remove the fast-tracking item.

After alerting some responsible, motivated citizens who understood the ramifications of such policy violations, articles were published in our local media and about a dozen public comments of protest were submitted at the April 13 school board meeting.

The Superintendent tried to be the scapegoat, but the president of the school board is responsible for creating the agenda with him.

The president tried to justify the violations because WASB warned if the public was allowed to comment on topics that weren’t relevant to agenda items, they would submit brownie recipes and divorce decrees.

However, that has never been an issue at past school board meetings, as the board later admitted.

Then, they claimed it wasn’t their intention to censor public comments, even though they had to strike “to remove ‘other items’” from the proposed change, and despite the fact the word “must” was italicized in the original agenda.

Thanks to everyone who had a part in making a difference!

 

Signed Jody Geenen

 

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*Trolling: troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion,[3] often for the troll’s amusement. (source: Wikipedia)

 

 

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