D86 wrong to stop residents from making public comment
Last updated 2/19/2020 at 4:14pm | View PDF
As former area school board members, we understand that the First Amendment’s freedom of speech is the cornerstone of American democracy, and the Open Meetings Act extends that non-negotiable right to hold public officials accountable and guarantee a transparent decision-making process.
On Dec. 12, Meeta Jain Patel, MD, Kara Kuo and Kim Notaro attended a public meeting of the D86 Board to share concerns about changes to the district’s nationally recognized science program which would limit course offerings. Respectfully and civilly, these community members attempted to share that the administrator championing changes in D86 had opposed similar changes in her home district. This information was relevant to current curriculum discussions and, since the administrator had identified herself as a D86 employee while speaking at a public meeting, all information being shared was already available in the public domain. The three were prevented from sharing this information by the D86 Board.
Board members have an obligation to permit public comment and actively listen to the input of those they serve, whether or not they agree with the comments being made. By taking the microphone away from Dr. Patel, Ms. Kuo and Ms. Notaro, the D86 Board undermined the First Amendment principles essential to proper governance and compromised the process which ensures the alignment of public bodies and the priorities of those they serve. — Jennifer Burns, Hinsdale, and Kay Gallo and Ann Scott, Clarendon Hills