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Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Public Body Did Not Violate OMA in Enforcing Public Comment Rules

Still very little activity out of the Attorney General's Public Access Counselor (PAC) office, at least in the way of binding opinions. Today's opinion is an advisory opinion where the PAC concluded that a public body did not violate the Open Meetings Act when a school district board did not allow a member of the public to comment on a specific topic at a meeting and removed the individual from the meeting. 2015 PAC 35101.

On May 5, 2015, the PAC received a "request for review" alleging that a school district board violated the OMA when it refused to allow her to address the board a second time after she had spoke during the public comment period of the meeting. The school district responded that it had established written rules for public comment that limited the time for individual comment to 3 minutes, and required that public comment take place during the designated public comment period on the agenda. The district's rules also contained reasonable rules to govern decorum during meetings. The PAC reviewed the district's rules, and concluded that the district did provide an opportunity for public comment as required by section 2.06(g) of OMA. The PAC also noted that her removal from the meeting was "necessary to maintain order and decorum at the meeting" because she had "become increasingly uncivil in her manner of speech when addressing the Board, and refused to cease addressing the Board, or take her seat, after being asked to do so by the Board President."

This opinion is a good reminder to public bodies to make sure they have established written rules for public comment at meetings - the fact that the district had rules in place for public comment was an important part of the PAC's analysis and conclusion that the district did not violate the OMA in enforcing its previously established rules.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf

Disclaimer: Ancel Glink represented the public body in this opinion.


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