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  • Writer's pictureCKB

Best Practices Guide for Board of Education Members and Community Members

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

The Great Schools Initiative often gets asked by citizens "I want to get involved, but where do I start?" The following is a list of best practices to help community members do just that and to help BOE members too.

 

*Both board of education members and community members GET TO KNOW YOUR BYLAWS! You can find the bylaws typically linked on your district website.  Read them, print them, and keep them handy.  


*Both board of education members and community members - Become familiar with the MI Open Meetings Act.  

 

*Both board of education members and community members - Thoroughly and completely review all agendas and meeting packets prior to the BOE meetings.  It has become commonplace for districts to provide links to these items as well as previous meeting minutes on the district website.  Watch for embedded links within the agenda items. Be sure to review all the documentation those links contain too!


*Board members - Learn Robert's Rules and take a high quality training program.

Here are a few worth checking out:

 

*Board members - Ask the district's attorneys to provide copies of all the laws that apply to the topics being discussed and/or voted on by the board and specifically what board's duties and responsibilities are with regard to these topics. 

 

*Board members – Ask "Is this State of MI guidance OR law?"  Always keep in mind that guidance is NOT law. If an item is being voted on, that means you have a choice and you can vote "no".  Your constituents are counting on your vote to align with and represent the views that got you elected!


*Community members - Get to know your board members.  Reach out, form relationships with, and support the good ones. Help them ALL stay informed.  If you know of an applicable law or information on a topic they are going to be discussing, pass it along to them. 


*Community members - Attend meetings and make public comments.  Hold the district and the BOE accountable by getting people in the seats and eyes on them!  If you are not able to attend, send an email to administration and to all of the board members expressing your views.

 

*Community members - If the meeting is being streamed online, your comment could have more impact getting broadcasted for everyone to hear versus an email that is only read by the board.  Even if the board isn’t listening, remember the public is.  So this becomes a great messaging opportunity.  


*Community members - Ask lots of questions! Type them up along with your comments.  After you make your public comment, leave a copy with each of the board members.  State outloud and in writing when you expect to hear back from them.  If you do not hear back, follow up!

 

*Community members – It is highly recommended that you make and retain your own recordings of all the board meetings either by recording your computer screen as the meeting is streamed or taping in person because schools can always pull online videos down, or edit and then repost them.

 

*Community members - Watch for upcoming public hearings about sex education curriculum updates.  Please attend these meetings! Be sure to view the proposed lesson plans and express your opinion! Ideally volunteer to be on the district Sex Education Advisory Board. They do not meet very often.


Also check out the GSI blog post "How to Investigate Your District’s SEAB".


*Community members - Find out who your district FOIA coordinator is.  Become familiar with FOIA laws and how to write a good FOIA.  


*Community members - Sign up to become a member of the Great Schools Initiative! Be sure to check the box to receive our emails so you can learn about how to engage in GSI high impact projects, stay current on what is happening in Michigan schools, get invitations to local events and training opportunities and much much more!







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1 Comment


Guest
Jul 02, 2023

Your article says, "It is highly recommended that you make and keep your own recordings of all board meetings, either by recording your computer screen while the meeting is broadcast, or by recording in person, because schools can always download online videos or edit and then publish them." My advice is to use a few programs that I've been using myself for several years. You can read about them at the link. They allow you to make a complete recording of your computer screen.

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