Visalia Unified School District streamlines comments at meetings

Visalia Unified asks public to submit written comments, call-in requests to allow for more efficient public comment at school board meetings

VISALIA – Visalia Unified parents and taxpayers interested in commenting at upcoming school board meetings will now have two options to do so.

Last week, the district announced that anyone wanting to comment can do so via phone or by posting comments to a district web portal but both will require filling out an online form before 4 p.m. the day of the meeting. Visalia Unified School District’s (VUSD) regular board meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Those wanting to talk directly to the board must now submit a telephone RSVP form online at bit.ly/3iTE6eO. During the Board meeting, a staff member will call you and prompt you before you begin your public comments. Phone calls must be made from a separate cell phone or landline so callers should mute the microphone on the computer on which they are watching the meeting when they receive the phone call from the board. Translators will be available to accommodate calls for Spanish speakers.

Members of the public can also continue to have their comments read to the board, and into the official recording of the meeting, by submitting a comment online form at bit.ly/32Ix73j. Comments will be read aloud by a staff member during the item. The reading of each comment will be limited to three minutes per agenda item, or about 300 words. The total time limit for public input on each item is 20 minutes. Any portion of a comment extending past three minutes may not be read aloud due to time restrictions. The District reserves the right to not read or hear comments, or portions of comments, that violate meeting guidelines.

In either format, if you wish to submit a public comment on more than one agenda item, the district is asking that you submit a separate RSVP form for each item. Comment forms can be submitted as early as noon the day before the board meeting.

The new format began with the Aug. 25, board meeting. Comments on items that are on the agenda are to be made when the item is called by the Board President. Comments on matters that are not on the agenda are to be made during General Public Comment. Please note that public comment that is received via the Public Comment Online Form will be read first during the meeting; and if time allows, people who have RSVP’d to provide public comment by telephone will be called so they may provide their public comment. All information submitted on the online forms is subject to public disclosure.

The District has temporarily suspended public access to the VUSD District Office building until further notice, so school board meetings will continue to be held online. The public is encouraged to observe the videoconference board meetings on the district’s YouTube channel at bit.ly/2QK02x7.

Comments on issues that do not appear on the agenda are given during general public comment near the beginning of each meeting. Under the district’s bylaws and state’s open meeting laws, the school board cannot enter into a formal discussion, nor can a decision be made, because the public was not notified of the issue or vote.

In order to ensure that non-English speakers receive the same opportunity to directly address the board, Google Translate will be used to translate any comments received in languages other than English.

Individuals with disabilities requesting reasonable accommodation or modification of the comment procedure may contact the superintendent’s office at 559-730-7522.

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