Huntsville School District Superintendent Audra Kimball decides whether or not a person may be placed on the school board’s regular monthly meeting, according to the policy of the Huntsville School Board. 

If a school board member wishes to have an item placed on the agenda, he or she may contact the superintendent or the board president, in writing, and the request will be considered. 

However, the criteria for being placed on the agenda for parents, students, or people in the community is more difficult. 

In order to be placed on the agenda, someone has to submit  “requests, in writing to the superintendent, at least five days prior to the meeting of the Board,” according to board policies.

“The written request must be sufficiently descriptive to enable the superintendent and board president to fully understand and evaluate its appropriateness to be an agenda item. Such requests may be accepted, rejected, or referred back to the individual for further clarification.”

At that time, the superintendent must notify the board president of all written requests to be placed on the agenda along “with the superintendent’s recommendation concerning the request.” 

If an item is placed on the agenda, the person making the request is limited to 10 minutes to present unless specifically granted additional time by a motion approved by a majority of the board.

Board members are not allowed to respond during the meeting to the agenda item. “The Board may choose to discuss the issue presented at a later meeting, but is under no obligation to do so,” board policy states. 

The board does not allow people to voice their concerns about discipline or employment. 

“There is no law on school board agendas,” according to Kristin Garner, staff attorney for the Arkansas School Board Association. “School boards have the ability to completely control their agendas,” Garner said.

Also, public comment is usually not recommended. 

“While allowing people to shout and vent and talk about how upset they are about a situation might make people feel better in short run but could very easily create a situation where a school district could be creating a legal liability for itself,” she said.

Allowing people to speak about employees could create a forum, “where their reputation is trashed,” she said.

Garner said school board members are also to remain impartial in regard to any hearings that might come before them and allowing people to voice their concerns in an open forum could prejudice the board’s decisions. 

Garner said a person has no right under the law to speak about a board member at a board meeting but rather they need to take their concerns to the ballot boxes during school board elections.  

The next regularly scheduled school board meeting is July 12. However, Kimball has stated she is on vacation this week and will be back in the office on July 12.