The Granbury ISD School Board’s most recent meeting on Nov. 13 had some community members feeling shut out.
During school board meetings, there are options for the public to speak about agenda items and non-agenda items. During this time speakers are allowed to address the board and voice their concerns.
To speak, one must fill out a form that requires the following information to be filled out: which agenda item the speaker will discuss and if not an agenda item, what their topic will be about; the speaker’s name, date, address, phone number, email and signature; and whether the speaker is a parent of a GISD student, a GISD student, a GISD taxpayer, a GISD employee or other.
Kerri Rehmeyer was signed up to speak for both public comments on agenda items as well as non-agenda items. She spoke during the agenda items portion of the meeting and later when she approached the podium to speak during the non-agenda item portion, she was told she wasn’t allowed to speak by board president Barbara Herrington.
Herrington told Rehmeyer that since she had already spoken once, she was not allowed to speak again.
Rehmeyer called out to the board that they allowed her to speak during public comments on both agenda items and non-agenda items on Nov. 9 when the board held a public complaint hearing.
The contradiction between the Nov. 9 meeting and Nov. 13 meeting had Rehmeyer upset, and she continued to attempt to speak, but was removed by GISD school marshals after GISD Superintendent Jermey Glenn requested she be taken out of the board room due to her being disruptive.
According to GISD’s Board Policy under disruption, “The Board shall not tolerate disruption of the meeting by members of the audience. If, after at least one warning from the presiding officer, any individual continues to disrupt the meeting by his or her words or actions, the presiding officer may request assistance from law enforcement officials to have the individual removed from the meeting.”
Todd Daniels also had signed up to speak during the Nov. 13 meeting as well as the previous three meetings but has not been allowed to speak “due to his form being incomplete,” Herrington said during the meeting.
Daniels claimed the board was violating his first amendment rights. The HCN also obtained a copy of Daniels’ form from the Nov. 13 meeting and every portion of the form was filled out.
According to Granbury’s school board policy, “A district shall take no action abridging the freedom of speech or the right of the people to petition the board for redress of grievances.”
The HCN questioned the board’s action regarding Rehmeyer being removed as well as Daniels not being allowed to speak during the Nov. 13 meeting and the district replied with the following statement.
“GISD has clear policies and procedures for individuals to sign up and speak during open forum at board meetings. Individuals who do not follow the district's policies may not be allowed to speak at meetings. GISD doesn't prevent anyone from addressing the board as long as they complete the entire public comment form as required.”
During the Nov. 13 meeting, the board adopted several changes to its policy regarding public comments. These changes included speakers now being required to fill out a form online to speak by 9 a.m. on the day of the meeting. There will no longer be public comments on non-agenda items and instead there will be quarterly meetings held to hear people speak on non-agenda items.
During public comments, people who live within the district will be given priority to speak first whereas nonresidents will be allowed to speak at the end. All speakers will be given three minutes, but the board president has the authority to set time limits during all open forums.
Public comments will now be required to take place before a vote is made on the agenda item a person is addressing.
“I cannot tell you how upsetting it is that they are getting away with what they have been doing to people and there is no recourse for people like me, an average resident in the district. You speak up for yourself; they throw you out and all the audience (filled mostly with school employees it seems) cheers. Sad, sad situation,” Rehmeyer said.
“There is obvious viewpoint discrimination and coverup going on. They do not like transparency and I’m all about it whenever there’s corruption,” Daniels told the HCN. They know they are violating both policies and law in their conduct.”
The next regularly scheduled school board meeting will take place on Dec. 11. Registration for public comments will open 72 hours prior to the meeting and will be available on the GISD website. Registration will close at 9 a.m. the day of the meeting.