News Policy & Advocacy Work

School Board Adopts Clinic Guidance on Public Comment Policy

After the Clinic sent a letter to the Batavia City School District Board of Education to offer guidance on a proposed policy concerning public expression at Board meetings, the Board adopted a revised policy at its January 25, 2021 meeting that took into account the Clinic’s concerns.

The proposed policy initially prohibited public discussion of individual district personnel and students, which the Clinic pointed out would prevent members of the public from exercising their right to criticize public officials. The policy also originally stated that libelous statements and statements advocating racial, religious or other forms of prejudice would not be tolerated. The Clinic successfully advocated for revised language because speech cannot be restrained in anticipation of libel and the proposed language regarding other forms of prejudice was overly vague.

“The Board’s decision to make revisions to the proposed policy prior to its adoption is a great example of elected officials making decisions with input from the public,” Heather Murray, Managing Attorney of the Clinic’s Local Journalism Project, said. “Providing the opportunity for members of the public to address school board members on matters of public concern is critical to maintaining trust during this unprecedented time for us all.”