Things get heated at school board meetingNov 10, 2021 11:16AM ● By Becky Ginos
FARMINGTON—Frustrated parents came before the school board at last Wednesday’s meeting taking the district to task over the Depart of Justice (DOJ) findings and a proposed change in the public comment period.
Currently, public comment lasts 18 minutes allowing three minutes per speaker at both the business meeting and workshop. The proposed policy would change that to 20 minutes with two minutes per speaker but only at the board’s business meeting and not at the workshop. However, at last week’s meeting,12 people had signed up and Board President John Robison suggested the board allow all 12 to speak.
First up was the DOJ report and parents came down on both sides of the aisle.
“I’m the parent of one of those students who had the courage to talk to the DOJ,” said Carolyn Bingham. “My daughter who is now a senior at Bountiful High School spent her entire eighth grade year hearing the N-word on the bus. I look white. My two children are adopted Black children.”
The problem didn’t get really bad until they hit middle school, she said. “So I worked with the administration at Mueller Park Junior High for the better portion of a year. The problem was never solved. I hadn’t planned to speak on behalf of this until I opened up my Facebook feed and discovered last night that a school bus coming back from Mueller Park Junior High turned around and went back to the school because the students on the bus were using the N-word.”
It has to stop from the bottom up and the top down, said Bingham. “Don’t just see this as a punitive measure. Take this opportunity to change the lives of the kids.”
Another parent took a different view of the DOJ report. “Do we need to work on some things?” said parent Becky Holt. “Yes we do but you just invited the federal government to come into our schools and police our children and our teachers.”
Nicole Mason recently moved here from Nevada, and took issue with the proposed public comment period change. “There everyone who came out to a school board meeting got to give public comments,” she said. “You should allow all parents to be heard. The DOJ investigation is a direct result of not listening to parents. Davis School District has a pattern of refusing to listen to parents.”
Following the public comment period, the board considered the proposed policy to change it. Board member Liz Mumford put forth an amendment to extend the comment period from 20 minutes to 30. Board member Julie Tanner suggested it should stay the same as it is right now.
“Reducing it is the wrong direction,” she said. “The evidence to me is that people want to speak. We shouldn’t reduce that.”
Robison made another motion to instead insert 24 minutes into the policy. “I went back and looked at September 2020 to Oct. 5, 2021,” he said. “There were 144 available slots and 106 were filled leaving 38 spots open. Prior to the pandemic we had hardly anybody come.”
Along the Wasatch Front not one board has public comment during the workshop, he said. “Nobody has it during a work meeting of a city council.”
Ultimately, the board voted in favor of a 30 minute public comment period giving speakers two minutes each with Robison, Tanner and Cheryl Phipps voting no.