Stop Speaker Suppression

Testimony of Diane Payne to the Board of Education at the Public Hearing, October 7, 2021

At the September Action Meeting, after arbitrarily changing the agenda and leaving public speakers dangling for an unanticipated additional hour and half – only 16 of the allowed 30 speakers were available to address the Board. 

The only legitimate reason for capping speakers is to control the narrative.  You successfully shut out an unknown number of folks who found the speaker registration closed only hours after it opened.  You then manipulated the agenda possibly causing speakers to abandon their effort to testify.

You refuse to engage in any effort to consider the public’s demand for reversal of the speaker cap and you are allowing the ACLU lawsuit filed against this cap to languish and eat up District resources. 

Board Vice President Hinton stated when introducing the superintendent search “we want to hear from you” but your actions belie your words.  You really don’t want to hear from the public unless you can control the narrative. 

I am calling on each Board Member to review this undemocratic and opaque decision. 

It is truly astounding that this is happening while the biggest health crisis in a century envelops us all – with the accompanying school crises of bus driver & staff shortages, failed lunch deliveries, trash pile-ups, and more.  Not to mention the on-going plague of toxic schools and the disconnects between what the superintendent reports to you and the reality on the ground.  These are all crucial topics you have insulated yourself from hearing publicly.  You are denying citizens their democratic right to testify in public to their governmental body.

I ask again…please review and reverse the speaker suppression you instituted in January.