Following a livelier-than-usual open forum at its March meeting, the Shawnee Mission Board of Education last month put a new policy in place that placed restrictions on what topics district patrons were allowed to discuss during open forum. “Discussion of matters related to a specific student or employee is not allowed. Instead, comments should be submitted in writing to the Superintendent,” reads the new procedure. The guidelines also discourages people from using the open forum to air their thoughts about a topic before they have tried to address it through other channels: “Although the board encourages public involvement through open forum, patrons are asked to first go through regular school channels to obtain a response to questions or concerns.”
The new policy came into play at Monday’s board meeting, when board president Sara Goodburn cut off a parent who was raising questions about a perceived conflict of interest in Deb Zila voting to approve a contract for CBIZ, the company her daughter works for through a school district contract.
Do you think the board’s new open policy guidelines are appropriate and necessary? Why or why not?