Blue Valley School District is no longer livestreaming public comment at board meetings

The Blue Valley Board of Education is no longer livestreaming or archiving public comment periods at its regularly scheduled board meetings. Photo courtesy Blue Valley School District.

The Blue Valley Board of Education is no longer livestreaming or archiving public comment periods at its regularly scheduled school board meetings.

The details: Board meetings will now start at 5:30 p.m. with public comment, but the YouTube livestream of the meeting will begin only  after the open forum — what the district calls the public comment period — has concluded, and before the board continues with the rest of the meeting.

  • Open forum now occurs prior to every regularly scheduled monthly board meeting, with 30 minutes allotted for individuals to address the board.
  • About 10 participants will have 3 minutes each to address the board during this time.
  • Additional opportunities for community engagement with the board will be discussed as part of the work of the Communications Board Advisory Committee.

Timeline: District spokesperson Kaci Brutto said the board made the decision to no longer livestream the public comment period before it met at its June 13 meeting.

  • The board’s decision was not made publicly because it was not a policy change, Brutto added.
  • Changes to the livestream were shared with families through the district’s electronic newsletter on June 7 and July 21.
  • Brutto said the information was also posted on the board’s webpage and Blue Valley’s social media.
  • Brutto provided no specific incidents that led to this change.

Key quote: “The intent of open forum is an opportunity for the Board of Education to hear from the public,” Brutto said in a statement to the Post. “Open forum is not intended to be an opportunity for individuals to have their comments broadcast to the entire community.”

Bigger picture: Blue Valley is not the first major district in the Johnson County area to do away with streaming public comment at its board meetings online.

  • In July 2021, the Shawnee Mission School District also approved a similar change to the way it conducts public comments at its board meetings in July 2021.
  • The Shawnee Mission school board began considering the change after YouTube removed a video of its meeting due to comments from the public that had “medical misinformation,” the media giant owned by Google reported.

How to participate: Those looking to participate in the public comment section of the school board meetings can do so by completing the Open Forum Request Form.

  • Request forms will open at noon one business day prior to the scheduled meeting and will close at noon on the day of the board meeting or before if the speaker capacity has been reached (in other words, when at least 10 speakers have already signed up).
  • Patrons who submit a form prior to the 10 speaker capacity will receive an automated email from the district confirming their spot as one of the open forum speakers.