This guide is intended for the use by the Trustees and members of the public to assist them in making sure that participation in Board meetings is as effective and constructive as possible. This guide does not replace or alter policy and administrative procedure upon which it is based.
Public Participation At Board Meetings
The First Amendment rights of free expression are embraced by Mendocino College. As indicated below, the public’s rights to comment at the meetings of the Board of Trustees (BOT) are subject to some minimal limitations.
While most issues coming before the BOT are subject to discussion and action in open session, the Brown Act authorizes certain topics to be addressed within closed session. Such issues include personnel, litigation, real estate negotiations, student issues, and collective bargaining. In its position as public trustee, the BOT shall address these issues appropriately in conformance with the Brown Act.
Board Policy 206 and its accompanying Administrative Procedure establish the basic regulations for public participation in BOT meetings. The public may attend, observe, and may participate according to policy and administrative procedure guidelines. The agenda for each of the BOT meetings provides a specific place for public comments. During the public comments section, the public is asked to address only those issues or subjects of relevance to the college.
If the subject matter is not on the agenda, except in certain prescribed circumstances [see Government Code Section 54954.2 (b) (1) (2) (3)], the BOT may not take action, nor discuss the item, except to clarify. The BOT and staff are not obligated to comment on any item not on the agenda.
The BOT need not allow the public to speak on any item that has already been considered by a committee composed exclusively of Board members at a public meeting where the public had the opportunity to address the committee on that item. However, if the BOT determines that the item has been substantially changed since the committee heard it, the BOT shall provide an opportunity for the public to speak in accordance with the law.
Rules Covering Public Participation
Each participant is:
• Asked to be recognized by the Board President before speaking, and to direct their comments to the Board President.
• Requested to give name, place of residence and affiliation, if any.
• Limited to five minutes for a statement, unless the BOT otherwise directs at the time. The Board President, with the permission of the BOT, may modify these time limits. If time permits, an individual my speak again on the same topic. The Board President may limit the total time spent on any one topic.
• Limited to one statement per subject as long as others wish to address the meeting on this subject.
• Asked to address the Board President only. The Board President may call on others to clarify an issue. The Board President may or may not decide to respond to the comments. A response may be delegated.
Electronic recording devices and cameras will be permitted at open sessions subject to approval of the Board President, who will ensure that the meeting will not be hampered or disrupted. No placards or banners will be permitted within the meeting room.
Those members of the public making statements involving personnel are reminded that the employees of the district have a right to privacy and confidentially. The BOT will act properly, giving full consideration to the law and to the individual’s rights. Members of the public are asked to refer to Administrative Procedure 206.1, Section 9, prior to making a complaint against an employee or student in an open session of the BOT.
The BOT will hear and not prohibit comments which criticize policies, procedures, programs, or services of the college, or acts or omissions by the Board. The Board President retains the right to express caution concerning remarks which identify staff or students, and/or which are vitriolic, abusive, or profane. The Board President may also request that persons who are not observing reasonable decorum and courtesy, to the extent that the meeting is disrupted, leave the meeting.
The Board President is also responsible for reminding the BOT of its trusteeship obligations, particularly with respect to those matters mentioned above, which the BOT discusses only in closed session.
Willful Disruption of Meeting
The Brown Act provides that the Board President may, under circumstances of willful interruptions, disturbances, and disorderly conduct, clear the meeting room with the exception of non-offending members of the press or other news media.
Placing Matters on Meeting Agenda
Members of the public, including those who are among the constituencies within the college, also have the right to place matters directly related to district business on the agenda of the BOT’s public meetings. To place an item on the agenda of a future meeting, members of the public may submit a request, either in open session of the BOT, or by written request to the Board President or Board Secretary. A reasonable amount of time will be set aside to permit the Board to review the matter, and, in some cases, to consult legal counsel. If the BOT determines the request is pertinent to the BOT’s business and appropriate for discussion at an open session, the matter will be placed on a future agenda.
POLICY NO. 901
Public Participation in Board Meetings
GOVERNMENT CODE, THE BROWN ACT, VIZ.
54954.2 Agenda requirements; Regular meetings
54954.3 Public's right to testify at meetings
54957.9 Disruption of meeting
CALIFORNIA EDUCATION CODES
Sections 72121, 72122, & 72129
TITLE V EXCERPTS
Created: April 02, 2002 @ 12:00 AM
Last Modified: December 18, 2012 @ 11:41 AM