Prince William County School Board news

School Board Proposes Changing Citizens Time Policy

Prince William County School Board Considering Citizen Participation Policy Revisions

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The Prince William County School Board is considering revisions to Policy 134, Citizen Participation. (Outlined below article)

The revisions are intended to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the School Board’s business meetings, while ensuring citizen voice in matters of public concern.

The revisions will also assist in moving School Board business earlier in the evening, improving visibility into Board Decision making for the public, including students.

Specifically, the policy revisions will increase citizen participation at the start of the meeting from a 30-minute citizen comment period, to a one-hour citizen comment period, at each regularly scheduled School Board business meeting agenda.

In order to maximize the number of speakers, each citizen will have two-minutes for comments. Citizen comment sign-ups will be required in advance of the School Board meeting via a link on the PWCS website.

The first thirty minutes will be reserved for agenda items before the School Board. The remaining time will be open to any topic (relevant to PWCS).

Citizens will also have the opportunity to submit written or video testimony outside the Board meeting that will be shared with all School Board Members.

The revisions include added language pertaining to the confidentiality of personal contact information provided by speakers to the Clerk in accordance with recent legislative changes to Virginia Freedom of Information Act which render such information exempt from public disclosure unless the speaker indicates otherwise.

In order to ensure public safety, provide others with an unimpeded view, and minimize distractions and disorder during meetings, an additional provision was added prohibiting signage in the Board meeting room, except for approved signage during student presentations.

The School Board will consider the policy as information at its September 1, 2021 meeting, followed by a vote as part of the agenda for September 15, 2021

This form will be completed for all new policies and regulations and for all recommendations for revisions to or deletions of policies and regulations of Prince William County Public Schools. Attach any information which would be helpful to understand the proposed changes or actions. 

Recommended by: Staff ☐ Division Counsel ☒ Board Member ☒

Date Prepared: 8/23/2021 Recommendation: add ☐, revise ☒, or delete ☐ the following Policy (P) or Regulation R) numbers and titles:

Policy in full

Policy 134, “Citizen Participation.”

Brief summary of the proposed addition or changes:

In light of restrictions on the citizen comment period required during the pandemic, and in order to update and increase the means by which the School Board can obtain such input in the future, the following proposed changes were suggested by one or more School Board members:

  • Added language in various places throughout the policy encouraging additional citizen comment through electronic and videotaped means, including the electronic form added to the School Board website which collects citizen comments for review by all Board members, as opposed to individual emails. 
  • Added language regarding Board’s ability to hold town halls for individual topics of public concern where the number of citizens who want to speak to the Board cannot be accommodated at regular Board meetings.
  • Expanded the citizen comment period at regular School Board meetings from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, with the first half hour reserved for comment on agenda items (in order to assure that public input on such items is provided before a vote) and the second half hour for agenda or non-agenda items directly related to PWCS operations or policies.
  • Revised sections on Sign-Up Procedure to reflect expanded citizen comment period, and limiting speakers to two minutes and 30 total speakers in order to allow the Board to conduct its business within reasonable hours.
  • Added language pertaining to the confidentiality of personal contact information provided by speakers to the Clerk, pursuant to recent legislative changes to FOIA which render such information exempt from public disclosure unless the speaker indicates otherwise.
  • Clarified that emails and videotaped comments remain subject to public disclosure under FOIA.
  • Added a prohibition on signage in the School Board meeting room by members of the public.

Revised November 4, 2019

Brief description of why addition or changes are needed or required.

  • To reflect the School Board’s collective desire to encourage greater public participation both during regular Board meetings and through alternative means of communicating with the School Board, in light of lessons learned during the pandemic which have also made Board meetings shorter and more efficient, and have allowed the Board to conduct its business earlier in the meeting.
  • Also to conform to recent legislative changes impacting the disclosure of personal information provided by citizens.

Staff analysis of the proposed addition or changes in terms of the following:

Legal implications; educational benefits; impact on the administration of the School Division; immediate and future changes in numbers of assignments of personnel; immediate and future budgetary impact. N/A Signature of Individual Submitting Policy/Regulation for Review Date

The policy and/or regulation has been reviewed by Division Counsel.

  • The new policy or revisions to the current policy are substantive and must come to the School Board for review and approval. Division Counsel Date Reviewed
  • The revisions to the policy are editorial only or are changes to a regulation and do not require School Board review or approval.

More in the document

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