District 86 board was wrong in thwarting public comment


Last updated 3/4/2020 at 4:26pm | View PDF

The Open Meeting Act provides the public a statutory right to address public bodies. Per OMA, the rules for addressing a public body may only impose reasonable “time, place and manner” regulations that are necessary to further a significant governmental interest, such as maintaining decorum during the public meetings.

Having watched the live telecast of the Dec. 12 D86 Board of Education meeting, it seemed pretty clear that the D86 BOE did not follow OMA when they stopped three community members from reading a letter that had already been shared with them, posted on Facebook and referred to an administrator in a factual manner. Even though the second speaker attempted to continue the letter while simply referring to the position of the administrator, they were not allowed to continue.

Public comments allow community members to share their perspective with board members but more importantly with administrators, other district employees and community members. Understandably, being a board member can be a thankless job, but once you accept this position you are obligated to listen to all comments respectfully as long as they follow the “rules.” Per board policy, board members are also allowed to respond to public comments. I hope the current D86 BOE will choose to correct its error outside the legal system and move forward with the business of educating our students and updating the facilities for which the community helped pass a referendum. — Mridu Garg and Lois and Mejdrich, Hinsdale, and Jill Kosmin Quinones, Clarendon Hills


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