The Palo Alto school board voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve four out of six recommendations presented by the ad hoc public participation committee. The approved recommendations include allowing remote public comment at regular board meetings, allowing meetings without the option of remote public comment, rotating in-person and remote commenters and prioritizing student commenters.
At a board meeting in June, the board voted to re-establish public participation via Zoom — which had been set up during the pandemic, but reverted back to pre-pandemic practices in April by the agenda-setting committee — and formed an ad hoc committee to come up with recommendations for remote public participation. The ad hoc committee was also charged with addressing potential procedural abuses; board member Todd Collins raised concerns about the possibility of a large group of people from outside the area using Zoom commenting to disrupt meetings.
The fifth proposed item allotted a maximum of 30 minutes per item for public comment, and the sixth item cut down the current three-minute time limit per speaker to two minutes. The board delayed approving these two recommendations, citing a need for further discussion.
“I don’t feel comfortable voting on five and six tonight; this is the first time we’re seeing them and it’s a significant change,” Vice President Jennifer DiBrienza said at the meeting.
The agenda-setting committee plans to bring back items five and six for discussion again at a later meeting.