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A special called meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Education has prompted a coalition of parents to call for increased transparency from school board members, and the coalition is asking the community to take action.

Gwinnett County Parents for Quality Education released a statement Tuesday, March 2, in response to the announcement of a special called meeting scheduled for today, Wednesday, March 3.

The statement reads, “In response to the Gwinnett County School Board’s decision to call for a rushed special meeting with a 24 hour very thin notice lacks transparency and consideration for the community they were elected to serve.”

An announcement posted to the school system’s website reads, “The Gwinnett County Board of Education will hold a special called meeting on Wednesday, March 3, at 4:30 p.m. in the Executive Board Room at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center. The focus of the special called meeting will be to discuss personnel matters, policy revisions, and Board norms.”

An agenda posted at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center that was provided to the North Gwinnett Voice by Gwinnet County Parents for Quality Education lists an executive session, which will be closed to the public, followed by an open session.

Discussion topics for the executive session, as listed on the posted agenda, include the following:

  • Superintendent Contract
  • Superintendent Evaluation
  • Leadership Personnel

Items listed for the open session include the following:

  • Revisions to Policy BCBI: Public Participation in Board Meetings
  • Board Norms
  • Shared Learning
  • Leveraging Strengths

“The agenda is vague but two items of concern up for consideration is Superintendent J Alvin Wilbanks contract and proposed policy changes to public input,” the statement from the coalition reads. “Both items could change the trajectory of the GCPS district and are equally important. We urge the community to contact the five school board members immediately to ask them to keep Mr. Wilbanks and not adopt the revisions to the GCPS Public Comment Policy as proposed during the February 18th work session.”

The proposed revisions to Policy BCBI were tabled at the board’s Feb. 18 regular business meeting and include limits on the number of times an individual may speak before the board at consecutive meetings, a limit of three minutes for an individual to address the board and a provision to allow the board chair or other president officer discretion to limit the length of time for individual comments, the number of times an individual can address the board and the number of individuals speaking for or against a specific issue. Read the complete policy with proposed revisions here: https://www.gcpsk12.org/Page/28345.

According to the Gwinnett County Public Schools Office of the Executive Director for Administration and Policy, policies that are tabled are available for public review for 30 calendar days before the board considers a vote on the item.

The full statement by the Gwinnett County Parents for Quality Education reads:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Gwinnett County Parents for Quality Education Statement in Response to

the Gwinnett County School Board’s Late Hour Special Called Meeting

 In response to the Gwinnett County School Board’s decision to call for a rushed special meeting with a 24 hour very thin notice lacks transparency and consideration for the community they were elected to serve.

The agenda is vague but two items of concern up for consideration is Superintendent J Alvin Wilbanks contract and proposed policy changes to public input.  Both items could change the trajectory of the GCPS district and are equally important.

We urge the community to contact the five school board members immediately to ask them to keep Mr. Wilbanks and not adopt the revisions to the GCPS Public Comment Policy as proposed during the February 18th work session.

The new revisions will stifle the voice of the parents and communities members. The new policy will drastically limit the number of individuals that speak to 15. In addition, the policy will limit the number of speakers to one per topic. For example if 50 parents asked to speak opposed to school closure 1 person could speak, and if 30 people showed up to speak in favor only 1 person would be allowed to speak.

https://go.boarddocs.com/ga/gcps/Board.nsf/files/BYGJ8G4BE1C9/$file/BCBI.pdf

This policy is clearly an attempt by the individual Gwinnett County School Board members to cancel the voice of the parents of the 180,000 students that have been elected to serve.

Time is of the essence. Please contact the school board members prior to the 4:30 Wednesday, March 3rd’s special called meeting  to vote NO on changing the current public comment policy or Mr. Wilbanks contact.

GCPS School Board Members by District

District I — Karen Watkins  Phone — (678) 379-3043

District II — Steven B. Knudsen  Phone — (470) 839-5366

District III — Dr. Mary Kay Murphy  Phone — (770) 840-9752

District IV — Everton Blair, Jr.  Phone — (404) 491-0423

District V — Dr. Tarece Johnson  Phone — (678) 438-3011

BY:

deanna@northgwinnettvoice.com

Deanna Allen has more than 12 years of experience working for print and online media publications. She has worked as a copy editor and page designer, as a reporter covering various beats, as...

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