GC 'notice' plan is wrong
If there is a way to limit free speech, the Grove City School Board will find it. A recent policy proposal would limit citizens' participation at board meetings, requiring a seven-day advance notice on the subject to be discussed. The intent of this outrageous policy is clear: the board is attempting to stem a swelling tide of public criticism.
This strategy of limiting public participation is not surprising. This is, after all, a school board that has over the last two years engaged in such acts as ignoring state audit recommendations, skirting the Sunshine Act and firing a good teacher for no apparent reason. The board also has the unpopular habit of raising taxes and cutting student programs to pay for administrative raises.
The seven-day notification of intent to speak at a public meeting is an assault on free speech rights. Residents have no idea what the school board will be addressing until we see the agenda for that evening's meeting.
The proposed policy would prevent any citizen from speaking against an agenda item. This is a crucial consideration: If you were to attend a board meeting and saw that the board was planning that evening to raise taxes or fire a teacher or reinstate districtwide corporal punishment, you would be permitted to say nothing.
Residents should be appalled.
Why is the school board requiring a seven-day advance notice of potential criticism? Can you imagine the Lincoln-Douglas debates under such a rule? "I'd love to address your concerns about slavery — can you give me a week and I'll get back to you?"
The Grove City board's proposal is a disgusting abuse of power and an affront to residents.
Obviously, board president Rath is trying to shield her fellow members from criticism before the next election. Why else have the policy? It has never been needed. Rarely do citizens even show up for the school board meetings. When they do show up and try to speak against board policy, the board members and administration become openly hostile. A couple members have broken into temper tantrums in the recent past. One member laughs at citizens' concerns.
The board has a lot for which to answer, but limiting free speech will only help fuel the opposition. 2007 should be fun....