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|Censorship proposed at Monroe City School Board|
Two Monroe City School Board members suggested the school board reign in public participation at board meetings and consider controlling what board members say to the media.
School board member Brenda Shelling requested that board president Vicky Dayton set a time for board members to discuss the possibility of imposing guidelines to regulate the content of what members of the public say to the school board during board meetings. Shelling made her request earlier this week at a school board meeting.
Meanwhile, school board member Stephanie Smith said the city school board should decide which members would be allowed to speak to the media.
Shelling's suggestion about controlling public input at board meetings came after Monroe resident Neil Shaw voiced his concerns over the school board's recent behavior, including a controversial decision to rehire Dr. James Dupree as superintendent of Monroe City Schools.
Speaking to Dayton following Shaw's comments, Shelling made her request.
"I'm going to ask that you, as president, give a limit not to the time that a person speaks, but also the content," Shelling said.
Current board policy states members of the public may speak to the school board prior to any agenda item for up to three minutes.
Though the content of those comments must be limited to the agenda item under consideration at that time, Shelling said Shaw's comments were aimed at undermining the school board by painting a picture that the body as divided.
"There is language being used to incite and create animosity where there is none," Shelling said.
Shelling said division does not exist on the school board. She said communication problems do not exist with the board either.
"There's not one person on this board that I cannot communicate with," Shelling said.
Shaw, a local weather anchor for television station KNOE, has made several appearances before the school board in recent weeks to voice his concerns over the direction the school board is taking the system.
Shaw's previous appearance before the school board resulted in Shelling ordering security guards to "sit him down" after Shaw's comments were ruled out of order.
When Shelling called Shaw by name at the school board's meeting Monday, Shaw returned to the microphone to address what he said was an unfair characterization of his comments and continued distortions of his criticisms of the school board.
School board president Dayton asked Shaw to return to his seat because of the "terrible position" his demands to speak were placing on the board.
"Ms. Dayton, you guys are ripping us off," he said.
That prompted Shelling to say she would have a Monroe police officer remove Shaw from the school board's meeting if he did not take his seat.
Shaw returned to his seat briefly before leaving the meeting.
Later in the school board's meeting, board member Smith also suggested the school board consider adopting rules to curtail criticism of the board. She went a step further, suggesting the board needed an established policy governing who can speak to members of the media.
"I think as board members, we need to decide who, as a board, is speaking," said Smith. "I think that's something we need to get a grip on."