Johnston Community School District will no longer livestream the public comment portion of its school board meetings.
Over the last year, public comments have played a big role in discussions about controversies in Johnston such as proposed book bannings, calls for a diversity audit of the district and a professional to handle complaints, and the acceptance of a Turning Point USA student chapter.
“The purpose of public comments is to provide another avenue for community members to bring your concerns to the school board. The board has made adjustments to the public comment policy in the past including adjusting the time limit for comments and eligible speaker requirements,” said Board President Katie Fiala at Monday evening’s school board meeting.
She noted there wouldn’t be a policy change Monday evening, but the livestreaming change would take place at that meeting. No other changes were made, so speakers still have three minutes and the overall public comment period is still limited to 90 minutes.
No other reason was given for the change, and no other parts of the meeting are affected.
Just before the public comments started, the camera was pointed at the wall and the microphone for the livestream was muted. It came back online when the comments were over and the rest of the meeting was livestreamed.
Before the meeting, Johnston parent Sara Parris reached out to Fiala and Superintendent Laura Kacer about the change after she saw it on the agenda. Kacer’s response was similar to the comments at Monday’s meeting and offered no additional detail.
“You can rest assured that the work of the school board will continue to be transparent to all who would like to log on and watch. The purpose of public comments is to allow the community an opportunity to speak to the board,” Kacer wrote.
“As I am sure you have noticed, the comments people choose to share vary greatly. The choice to not livestream this portion of the agenda will not inhibit any individual who would like to speak to the board and share their concerns.”
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