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Durham School Board Members Propose Plans That Would Invite Public Feedback

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DURHAM, N.C. — Members of the Durham School Board hope two new proposals concerning public comment at school board meetings will unite the community they serve, not divide it.

Minnie Forte, Heidi Carter and Steve Shewel said Wednesday their proposed plans were in response to recent community criticism that the school board's meetings are too restrictive with people being allowed to talk only about certain topics with time limits.

One program called "Be Our Guest" would allow parents selected by their schools' principals to meet with school board members once a month to discuss issues and concerns.

Another plan calls for a monthly public hearing meeting where people can have their say.

More than six months ago, the school board started looking for a way to get rid of the drama and discord and regain control of meetings. Members voted to restrict public comment by topic and time limits.

At the first meeting with the new rules in place, three people were arrested.

The people opposed to any kind of limit of public comment, however, are still unhappy, saying the compromise is too little, too late.

The Durham School Board is expected to discuss the proposed plans at its meeting later this month. If approved, Forte, Carter and Shewel said they would like the plans to take effect in August.


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