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updated: 4/12/2011 6:22 PM

D300 returns to public comment rules

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After allowing all public comments to be heard at two special board meetings last month, the Community Unit District 300 school board will resume regular procedures and only allow minors to address the board with a guardian present.

School board President Joe Stevens, who made the announcement during Monday's board meeting, said the modification was based on legal advice from the district's attorney. Stevens did not explain further, however.

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The district's policy states that minors will not be heard by the board of education unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

District spokeswoman Allison Strupeck said the board allowed dozens of students to participate in public comments at the March 22 and March 23 meetings because of the unusual circumstances.

"With there being so many people in attendance who were not familiar with the board's policies before the meetings, the board wanted to be as reasonable as possible to ensure everybody was able to be heard," Strupeck said. "We didn't want to inflame an already difficult situation."

About 75 people, half of whom were students, addressed the board at the March 23 meeting. Some students targeted board member Monica Clark, who was subsequently heard muttering an unprintable word to describe students in a recording of the meeting.

Clark, who lost her bid for re-election told the Daily Herald on Monday that she would not attend meetings until the board reinforced its public comment policy.

Board member Chris Stanton said the board wants to ensure consistency.

"We need to follow the policies because they exist and we want to make sure we are consistent with it," he said. "I don't think we would run into trouble on an individual basis, per se. But if it is a policy we should follow it so that someone doesn't takes offense if we don't follow the policy on something else in the future."

More than 1,000 people attended the special board meetings in March, where board members voted to dismiss 363 teachers and administrators. The reductions were needed to allow for restructuring secondary school schedules, which would save the district $5 million next year if the union fails to meet wage and benefit concessions. More than half of the laid off teachers are expected to be recalled.

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