In the June 7th board meeting, as expected, the board voted 3-2 to change the board policy and to reduce the time allowed for members of the public to address the board from five minutes to three minutes. The two members voting against the new policy, Mrs. Poulter and Mr. Orozco, restated their position that the change wasn’t necessary and the public’s access to the board shouldn’t be limited. Mr. Orozco argued that Beaumont was unique, a “small tight community” and that one day the size of the district may justify the shorter time limit but right now it isn’t necessary.
Only Board President Mrs. Lara spoke in favor of limiting access. She said she had researched the subject and found that 21 of 26 school boards and local governing entities in Riverside County had adopted the three minute rule. She went on to claim the Riverside County Board of Education also uses the three minute rule and that she likes to consider the county board of education to be the “best example” for BUSD to follow. She finished by saying she believed three minutes was enough time.
Now for the rest of the story.....
I took a look at the school boards neighboring Beaumont and here is what I found:
- Banning has a three minute limit
- Yucaipa has a three minute limit for items on not on the agenda and five minutes for items on the agenda
- Redlands has a five minute limit.
And here is the most interesting finding:
I went to the Riverside County Board of Education’s website and found Mrs. Lara was wrong and she is not following the “best example”. The County Board of Education’s board policy allows a five minute time limit, not three, as Mrs. Lara stated in support of limiting our access. Here’s the link if you want to check it out for yourself.
I ask you these questions:
Why do Mrs. Lara, Mr. Hackney, and Mrs. De Longchamp want to limit our access?
Why don’t any of them give us a good sound reason for limiting one of the most important rights members of a democratic society have, public speech?
If Mrs. Lara believes that RCBOE is the example we should be following, shouldn’t she change her position and reinstate the five minute rule?
If three minutes is enough time, will Mrs. Lara agree to limit her speaking time to three minutes per item?
Aren’t you tired of hearing our elected public officials taking away our access and telling us it’s for the best?