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Dover Post
  • Capital school board discusses policy changes on letters and public comment

  • The Capital School District Board of Education continued its discussion on how to improve public discourse through revisions in the public comment portion of meetings and ensuring that letters to board members are cleared for public comment before being disclosed.
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  • The Capital School District Board of Education renewed its discussion on revising policy with regard to public comment and the public disclosure of letters sent to board members Wednesday night.
    The board picked up where it left off in August, when Dover High School parents Kay and Michael Conaway complained that a letter they had sent to the board in confidence was leaked to the Dover Post. The letter was critical of a personnel move Capital had made for the 2012-2013 school year.
    The Conaways told the board that they sent this letter exclusively to the home addresses of the five school board members. It then appeared to be forwarded to the Dover Post under a false name.
    All board members denied sending the letter except for Brian Lewis, who had not responded to several queries from the Dover Post about the letter. He was also absent from the August meeting.
    The usually vocal Lewis was quiet for most of the nearly two and a half hour meeting Wednesday night, and he had no comment on the board's first reading on the aforementioned policy change.
    Lewis then quickly left at the conclusion of the second school board meeting held in the boardroom of Capital's new Administration Complex.
    The U.S. Postal Inspection Service reviewed the details of how the Conaway letter ended up in the hands of the Dover Post and determined no laws were broken.
    Nonetheless, Capital Board of Education President Kay Dietz-Sass has worked hard to regain public trust in the board since this letter was disclosed. Last month, she initiated the discussion with the board of improving the public comment portion of meetings.
    The first reading of the policy change on public comment provided by Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas Wednesday night proposed giving individuals three minutes to speak, as opposed to two minutes. In addition, the public comment portion would not exceed 15 minutes toward the beginning of the meeting.
    However, the board could extend public comment at the conclusion of the regular agenda up to 15 minutes.
    Board member Matt Lindell noted that the proposed policy did not provide any guidance to the board with regard to ensuring that letters the board received could be indeed be read into the public record. This would involve, for instance, telephoning those who sent letters to the board to ensure making the letters public coincided with their wishes, he said.
    Dietz-Sass agreed to have that placed into the policy proposal for the second reading, scheduled to be heard at the board's October meeting.

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