Clarksville-Montgomery County School Board considers revising public participation policy

CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – At the Clarksville-Montgomery County School Board meeting Tuesday evening, board members considered revising their current public participation policy, which has been at the center of debate over the summer.

The School Board conducted a first reading of the new policy Tuesday.

Public participation has been an ongoing issue within the district, leading more parents to attend School Board meetings over the last several months, with some even staging demonstrations at meetings.

Public participation

Former Director of Schools Millard House first addressed the growing issue CMCSS parents had with the process of addressing the school board at a meeting on June 8.

At that meeting, House suggested the board view their public address policy at the board retreat, which is scheduled for Oct. 25 and 26.

Tensions continued to rise, and on July 13, about 40 parents staged a protest at a meeting.

While the main purpose appeared to be a demand for transparency on COVID-19 policies, an undercurrent of the parents’ outrage was their inability to address the board on topics not listed on the meeting’s agenda, which included COVID-19 policies.

This led to charged exchange between several parents and board members, who were shouting over members about the difficulties in requesting to address the board.

August’s School Board meeting also was fraught with tension as some parents were cut off mid-address to the board for not keeping their comments limited to relevant agenda items.

In what appears to be a response from the board, an update to the current request form was made on Aug. 10 in the form of a note.

The note reads, “The Board recognizes the value of public comment on the educational issues and the importance of involving members of the public in its meetings. To permit fair and orderly expression of such comment, the Board will provide a period during which visitors may make formal presentations.”

The new request policy also includes this note on the request form, however, goes further to add this statement: “Board members and/or the Director of Schools do not provide responses or engage in direct conversation during public…