All regular and special meetings of the School Committee shall be open to the public.  Executive sessions will be held only as prescribed by the Statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The School Committee encourages the full participation of citizens in the governmental processes associated with the education of the students in the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District.  One means of such participation occurs at the School Committee meeting.  While Massachusetts Open Meeting Laws do not require that School Committee meetings in the Commonwealth be opened to public participation, this adopted policy specifies that community members in Hamilton and Wenham shall have an opportunity to present their questions, observations, and concerns to the Committee at its regular and special meetings.

In order that all citizens who wish to be heard before the Committee have a chance and to ensure the ability of the Committee to conduct the district’s business in an orderly manner, the following rules and procedures are adopted.

I.  Policy

1.        At or near the opening of each regularly scheduled School Committee meeting, individuals or group representatives will be invited to address the Committee.  The length of the entire public participation segment of the meeting shall be determined by the Committee Chair.  The Committee reserves the right to rearrange its agenda to accommodate scheduled presenters.

2.        Any citizen wishing to speak before the Committee shall identify himself or herself by name and address.  Speakers will be allowed three (3) minutes to present their material.  No citizen may speak more than once without the permission of the Chair.  The presiding Chair may permit extension of this time limit.

3.        Topics for discussion are limited to those items on the School Committee meeting agenda for that evening.  Citizens wishing to introduce a new topic are advised to contact either the Superintendent of Schools or the Committee Chair in writing at least one week prior to the date of the meeting.  However, the School Committee may choose to add to the agenda a topic proposed by a guest who wishes to address the Committee, if a majority of School Committee members at that meeting approve the agenda change.

4.        At the discretion of the Chair, guests may be asked to reserve their comments until the meeting has proceeded to the point in the agenda when the relevant topic is scheduled for discussion.

5.        Improper conduct and remarks will not be allowed.  Defamatory or abusive remarks are always out of order.  If a speaker persists in improper conduct or remarks, the Chair may terminate that individual’s privilege of address.

6. No person shall disrupt the proceedings of the School Committee.  If, after clear warning from the Chair, a person continues to disrupt the proceedings, the Chair may order the person to withdraw from the meeting and if the person does not withdraw, the Chair may authorize a constable or other officer to remove the person from the meeting.

7.        All remarks will be addressed through the Chair of the meeting.

8.        Speakers may offer such objective criticisms of the school operation and programs as concern them, but in public session the Committee will not hear personal complaints of school personnel nor against any member of the school community.  Under most circumstances, administrative channels are the proper means for disposition of legitimate complaints involving staff members.

9.        Written comments longer than three (3) minutes may be presented to the Committee before or after the meeting for the Committee members’ review and consideration at an appropriate time.

Procedures & Financial Implications

1.        Whenever appropriate, the Chair may choose to outline these policies at the outset of a school committee meeting.

2.        There are no financial implications associated with this policy.


III.   Legal References/Sources and Review

MGL Chapter 30A, Section 20(f).


Adopted: January 21, 1999

Reviewed:  January 5, 2012