Huntsville School Board candidate suggests new ‘citizens’ comments’ policies, other candidates weigh in

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Last week, WHNT News 19 reported on a woman who was escorted out of a school board meeting for recording video of the citizens' comments portion of the meeting while standing. Pam Hill, a candidate running for the District 5 spot on the school board, recorded the incident.

Monday morning, Pam Hill put out a press release proposing new policies regarding the citizens' comments, an allotted time frame after the school board meeting for parents and the public to voice their comments and concerns to the school board.

The press release is titled "Pam Hill - Leading Candidate in District 5 Proposes Multiple Policy and Communication Changes for a Transparent and Collaborative Board of Education," and we're including a PDF of the entire press release here.

The press release outlines suggested changes to the meeting system, and how and when the citizens' comments should be received by the school board.

Here are summarized versions of the policies that Hill has suggested:

  1. Citizens' comments must be made a part of the school board meeting
  2. Citizens' comments must be allowed earlier in the board meeting
  3. Citizens' comments must be aired on ETV
  4. Board packets should be made available online so the material can be reviewed prior to the school board meeting
  5. The HCS BOE should conduct quarterly town hall-style meetings in district schools

We reached out to the other candidates running for either District 1 or District 5 spots on the school board and requested their views on Hill's want for policy changes. Hill's direct competition for the District 5 spot is Carlos Mathews. His main concern is that citizens "may have some personal issues that are going on within the school system that may violate FERPA law," and that those comments would not be allowed to be recorded or televised.

District 1 candidates Michelle Watkins and Mary Sawyer agreed that citizens' comments should be made a priority during school board meetings. Watkins agrees with Hill in that she believes the comments should be televised and recorded; Sawyer agrees with Hill's point on how the comments should be held earlier in the meeting so that more people have the opportunity to attend and have their voice be heard.

Laurie McCaulley, who is currently the president of the school board and is rerunning for a District 1 spot, noted as a point of information that no single school board member has the authority to obligate the whole board to any policies and has no authority outside the board being in session.