At the Anchorage School Board meeting on Monday, a revised school board policy is set to be voted on that may continue to blunt the ability of any board member to criticize the actions of the board.
The rule, BB 9010, states that before a vote, a board member may present whatever evidence they may feel important to the matter at hand. But not after a vote.
“The School Board shall fully consider the implications and relevancy of all information so presented. All opinions, reactions and positions shall be openly discussed, so that each member may understand all aspects of the issue before the School board makes its decision. Any School Board member who may wish to criticize or oppose any specific School Board action should do so during the School Board meeting,” the rule explains.
Once a decision has been made, the school board members are not allowed to “misrepresent” that decision to the public.
“When School Board members express their opinions outside of the School Board meeting, it is their responsibility to respect the democratic nature of School Board decision-making and always identify personal viewpoints as such,” the rule reads.
“Public statements in the name of the School Board shall be issued by the School Board president or, if appropriate, by the Superintendent or designee at the direction of the School Board president,” it says.
The proposed rule is better than what now exists, which says board members must “abide” by whatever decision the board votes on. The word “abide” is hard to define and is a certain abridgment of a board member’s First Amendment rights, although the new description of “misrepresent” also may be constitutionally weak, if a board president rules with a heavy hand.
Dave Donley, the conservative member of the school board, has been trying to improve this section of the board’s governing rules, because he disagrees with so much of what the board passes.
A second rule change will allow the Anchorage School District superintendent to act as an ex officio member of the board, with the ability to “make incidental motions and speak to matters under consideration during Board deliberations.” The rule change would not allow the superintendent to vote, however.
The school board meeting begins at 6 pm. It may be watched at: https://www.youtube.com/c/AnchorageSchoolDistrictAK
In-person attendance is limited due to the board’s Covid mitigation policy. Documents and agenda items are at this link.