Board OKs change to public comment policy

NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education has declared employees and students off limits for public discussion.

The board last week approved a change to the public comment policy that prohibits anyone from expressing complaints about any school personnel or anyone connected to the school system, such as students, during the public comment portion of meetings.

The policy states that people with concerns or grievances should speak directly to the superintendent.

“Speakers will not be permitted to participate in gossip, make defamatory comments or use abusive language. Speakers will be advised that comments must be limited to items which directly relate to the school district,” the policy reads.

The policy gives the chair of the board the ability to stop any comment which is deemed not to fit the guidelines.

Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said the policy was adjusted to put some rules around how people address one another during public comment.

“It is essentially the same policy with some norms built in,” Locke said.

Board member Glenn Connan voted against the change. Board member Diana Malone was absent.

After the meeting, Connan said there might come a time when the public either wants to address the board about the superintendent or doesn’t feel comfortable talking with the superintendent. While there aren’t any concerns about Locke, he said, there is no guarantee how people will feel about future superintendents.

“You can’t base a policy on who is office now,” Connan said.