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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Orange County Public Schools consider revising public comment rules following heated mask mandate hearings

Posted By on Wed, Sep 22, 2021 at 1:47 PM

  • Screenshot via Orange County Public Schools/YouTube

After dealing with heated hearings around their decision to impose mask mandates and stem the rapid spread of COVID-19 among their students, the Orange County Public Schools board is rethinking their public comment rules.

During a work session on Tuesday, the board floated changes to their policy that would streamline debate over likely controversial topics.

The most obvious solution to drawn-out and contentious hearings advanced by the board was a variable amount of allotted time for speaker that would be reduced in situations where many people sign up to speak. Suggested time limits were three minutes for topics with less than 20 speakers, two minutes for less than 30 and one minute when more than 40 people sign up.

The board also considered a priority system that would favor students, parents of students and employees of OCPS. Orange County residents would be next on the ranking, and visitors would come last.

Another measure under consideration would bar the use of video and audio clips as well as banners or flags, and disallow people from gathering in the back of the school board chambers. Any proposed changes would have to be placed on the agenda at a regular meeting and voted on after public comment under the current rules.

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