An amendment to board policy prioritizing public comments from certain attendees was approved 6-1 by FISD board members at a Feb. 27 meeting. Board Member Marvin Lowe voted against the new speaking order.
“Especially as our public comment ... has become a bit more heated as of late, I think it’s important that those that are in the audience and those that are watching on the stream know if they’re hearing from Frisco ISD constituents or if they’re hearing from someone outside of our district,” Board President René Archambault said.
The new order separates district stakeholders, such as FISD parents, students, faculty and staff and any FISD residents from any nondistrict members during the public comment section of board meetings.
“I think it’s an important distinction,” Archambault said.
There is a small but important difference in the current state law’s interpretation of a public hearing and the public comment section of a meeting, district general counsel Daniel Stockton said.
Public hearings refer to a specific issue up for discussion, allowing attendees to sign up and speak on only that issue from the meeting’s agenda during the allotted time.
Public comment, also called public testimony, is a segment separate from the public hearing and can be a time for an attendee to speak about anything on the meeting’s agenda.
“This [process] would essentially split what is currently public testimony into two sections,” Stockton said. “Stakeholder testimony and then public testimony.”
Those wishing to speak during public comment will put their address and which agenda item they wish to address on a card they submit to district staff, according to an FISD news alert.
Public hearings will still take place before public comments in a meeting’s agenda, according to meeting documents.
The speaking order within the two groups will still be based off of when the speaker signed up, and the same time limits would still apply, Stockton said.
The board’s new amendment and meeting policies can be found here.