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Silence, parents: Manchester school rule too broad

Last Tuesday the Manchester Board of School Committee reaffirmed a decade-old rule that prohibits citizens from using the public comment period of school board meetings to complain about "any person connected with the District." Oh, brother.

The rule, which dates from 2002, allows people to "offer comments on school operations and programs that concern them." But it prohibits "personal complaints of school personnel or complaints against any person connected with the District." Board members were surprised to hear that the rule existed (which is a problem in itself), and some opposed it.

Art Beaudry said, "To me, if a member of the public wants to come and speak, as long as they're respectful and not using vulgarities, that should be their right."

But the rule was kept by a vote of 11-3. That is disappointing. The rule obviously could serve to prevent a parent from coming to the school board to complain about the way a teacher graded a test. But it is so overly broad that it prevents anyone from publicly raising legitimate issues of administrator or even school board member misconduct. It needs to be revised.

Eric Church
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