Public Comment Restrictions Likely to Remain for BOE
Committee suggests keeping board's policy of allowing three minutes for each resident.
The Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education’s public comment policy of three minutes per individual during meetings will remain, if the board adheres to recommendations from its policy committee.
Board member Fran Orthwein, chairwoman of the policy committee, explained the board had asked the committee to discuss the possibility of removing the timeframe or rewriting the bylaw dictating that “each statement made by a participant may be limited to three minutes’ duration.”
Orthwein said the committee does not recommend any changes after she met and received basic guidelines from a representative of the New Jersey School Boards Association.
“[Our policy] does provide a structure for public participation,” she said. “You can either have a limit on the number of minutes each person is allowed or a limit on the total time.”
Orthwein said based on the number of individuals who typically address the board during public comment, which she estimated at 8 to 10, the representative recommended maintaining the three-minute limit.
“The fact that we also allow them to return after everybody has had their opportunity, [the representative] felt that was generous,” Orthwein said.
Resident George Blair agreed with the recommendation, saying the three-minute policy is important for deterring select individuals from “coming up here acting like they’re still on the board” or various others from “telling people what they need to do.”
Other public participation bylaws include waiting for all other members of the public to speak on a topic before getting up and discussing it again and directing all statements to the board president.