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San Diego Unified Board Sticks With Wait-Hours-to-Comment Policy

San Diego Unified’s board of trustees reconsidered their move to place public comment at the end of board meetings Tuesday night. And they did not have a change of heart.

The San Diego Unified Board of Education / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

This post initially appeared in the April 18 Learning Curve. Get The Learning Curve delivered to your inbox.

Hoping you wouldn’t have to wait four hours to comment at a San Diego Unified School District meeting? Sorry, you’re out of luck.

San Diego Unified board trustees reconsidered their move to place public comment at the end of board meetings Tuesday night. And they did not have a change of heart.

Those wishing to comment on a non-agenda item – for example, a specific problem at a school site, such as Porter Elementary – will still have to wait through an entire school board meeting to speak to their democratically elected representatives. The meetings often last anywhere from three to five hours.

Board Trustee Richard Barrera told me the board decided to move in this direction because of protestors who have used the non-agenda public comment time to disrupt meetings in the past. During the last 18 months, he said the board room had to be cleared twice because of protestors who came up during non-agenda public comment, but would not relinquish the floor. He also mentioned a third instance at the end of a meeting.

In one instance, community members protested the choice of a new principal at Lincoln High School, Barrera said.

Barrera acknowledged that the vast majority of people earnestly want to address the board. “I don’t like that people have to wait until the end,” said Barrera. “But the No. 1 priority is to get the business of the board concluded.”

Barrera said that the board would revisit the policy to see how it’s working sometime in the next year.

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