Testimony of Deborah Grill to the BOE, March 26, 2020

The advent of the coronavirus has thrown our nation in a state of crisis that is the new normal. Routine business has been thrown out the window as we are directed to practice social distancing and remain quarantined in our homes. I know that the Board, Dr. HIte and District staff have been working diligently to meet the needs of Philadelphia students, parents and teachers in this crisis, and I thank you all for that.

While the Board will live-stream and televise this month’s Action meeting, there is no avenue for real time comments and questions from the public. Submitting written testimony which will be summarized and read aloud by staff is not a substitute for open public interaction.

I hope that in future meetings the Board will find a way to follow the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records advisory on making public meetings interactive:

“The Sunshine Act is clear that public meetings should be held at public buildings with open public participation whenever possible. If an official emergency declaration prevents that from happening, a meeting via teleconference, webinar, or other electronic method that allows for two-way communication is permissible in most circumstances. (Some agencies may be governed by laws which add requirements beyond those included in the Sunshine Act.)”

I am sure that the District’s technology is capable of providing such an electronic method. Parents, teachers and students need the direct means of communicating with the Board that these meetings would allow, especially in this time of crisis.