A federal appeals court last week struck down a Georgia district’s policy limiting public input at its board meetings, ruling that the policy gave “unbridled discretion” to the superintendent in a way that could lead to censorship of potential critics.
The decision involves an issue that has vexed school boards across the nation—how to regulate speakers to keep matters civil but also respect free-speech rights.
The policy in question required prospective speakers at board meetings or planning sessions to get together with the superintendent to “discuss their concerns.” The superintendent was then supposed to report back within 10 days. Speakers then had to file a written request to speak at least one week before a particular meeting.
The court ruling still gives the district leeway to cut off public comment.
A version of this article appeared in the October 11, 2017 edition of Education Week as Appeals Court Strikes Down Rules for Speakers at Board Meetings