JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — An issue with how people can participate in the public comment section of Onslow County Schools board meetings is creating some issues with at least two of the board’s members.

WNCT’s Claire Curry received statements issued by board members Angie Todd and Louis Rogers. Both issued the statement on Onslow County Schools letterhead “to the people of Onslow County.” At issue is the public comment session of a board meeting and a recent change that was made to that process.

Before, people could sign up and address the board about any subject without the board’s prior knowledge. Now, when you sign up to speak before the board at a meeting, you have to disclose the topic you want to discuss. A form must be filled out regarding your inquiry. The chairman of the board, Ken Reddic, can also stop the discussion before it is completed.

In the statement issued by Todd, which Curry received Friday afternoon, it states in part, “I am not in agreement with the use of the newly revised form titled ‘Invitation to Address the Board,’ which requires citizens to disclose their specific comments prior to the meeting and the form states that the Chairman has the authority to end remarks/comments if the speaker deviates from the intended comments, they have turned in.”

In the statement from Rogers that Curry received Friday night, he says in part, “The guidelines released at our last board meeting restrict the citing of names or identifiable information of individuals, parents, students or school system personnel. It also prevents them from discussing personnel matters of the school system’s employees and employee competence and performance and, matters of student discipline records (including your own kid). Finally, the new guidelines mandate that speakers cannot discuss matters that ‘are not directly oriented or otherwise under the control of the Board of Education.

“… At this time, I believe this board has significant work ahead of it to correct many issues. I trust that we will be discussing these sensitive issues in a reasonable time. Nevertheless, if any guideline, rule or policy violates our constituents’ Constitutional rights, I will not support it.”

The next scheduled OCS board meeting is a budget meeting on April 25 at 9 a.m. A public hearing on the fiscal year 2024 budget is on May 2 at 5:30 p.m. The next regular meeting is scheduled for May 2 at 6 p.m.

Onslow County Schools Public Information Officer Brent Anderson sent a reply email to Curry regarding the current situation.

“The current OCS policy was unanimously adopted by the Board at their regularly scheduled meeting on February 2, 2021. Discussion on the policy revisions had previously been discussed as part of a special board of education meeting on January 26, 2021.

At the January 26 meeting, Chairman Bob Williams led the discussion as recorded in the minutes from that session:


Chairman Bob Williams referenced BOE policy 2310 for Public Participation at Board Meetings.  He noted that while the policy governs the ability for the public to speak in an open and public forum, all stakeholders are also encouraged to reach out to Board members by phone or email.  Information received by Board members will be conveyed to the Superintendent’s office and staff for appropriate support.  He shared that the opportunity to speak to the Board as part of the Board’s monthly public meeting includes a comment period to address agenda items on the Board’s current meeting and a comment period to address matters under the control of the Board.  He recommended the Board consider consolidating the two speaking opportunities into one at the beginning of the first regular monthly agenda and maintain the five-minute time limit for speakers.  This will allow for community input at the beginning of the Board’s business.  He referenced the form used for the public to sign up for the public participation opportunity and requested the form be changed from Request to Address the Board to Invitation to Address the Board.  This would acknowledge the public’s right to address the Board.   The form would maintain the need for the applicant to choose if the item they wish to address is an agenda item or a matter under the control of the Board.   Chairman Williams noted that a 30-minute block could be reserved dedicated to the public comment period, which the Board could extend if the issue at hand necessitates it.  Board discussion occurred.  The issue of requiring the public to sign up ten minutes prior to the meeting was addressed.  Clarification was made that the 10 minutes allows for the matter to be reviewed by the Board’s Attorney and Board Chair to determine the appropriateness of the topic to be addressed in a public forum.  Discussion occurred regarding the public’s process for adding an item to the agenda.  Clarification was made regarding the separate process of adding an item to the agenda requiring individuals to make a request to the Superintendent’s office for review and future scheduling by the Superintendent and Board Chair.   

Superintendent Dr. Barry Collins requested an item be added to future agendas to allow for Superintendent comments at the end of the Board’s meeting.  Chairman Williams agreed with possible future discussion about including Board member comments on the agenda.

Based on this discussion, Policy 2310 was included as an agenda item during the February 2, 2021, meeting. Again, Chairman Williams led the discussion as recorded in the minutes:


Chairman Bob Williams addressed the Board and referred to the Board discussion during the January 26, 2021, special Board of Education meeting related to Policy 2310: Public Participation at Board Meetings.  During that meeting, the Board discussed consolidating the two public speaking opportunities into one at the beginning of the first regular monthly agenda, maintain the five-minute time limit for speakers, and reserve a 30-minute block dedicated to the public comment period following the good news spotlight.  Accordingly, policy revisions were presented to the Board for their consideration.  It was noted that the policy revisions are based on recommendations from the North Carolina School Boards Association. Mr. Speranza made a motion seconded by Mrs. Oakley to adopt the revisions as presented to BOE policy 2310: Public Participation at Board Meetings.  Board discussion occurred.  Emphasis was given that the change allows for greater access to public participation and makes the process easier for the public.  Following Board discussion, the motion passed unanimously.

Even though the district is doing a comprehensive policy modernization, Policy 2310 has not been revised, due to the updates approved by the board in February 2021.

The guidelines provided to speakers at the April 11, 2023, meeting were based on the existing policy and were intended to create a positive experience for public speakers and meeting participants by making them aware of the processes for public participation. Policy 2310 is being considered as part of the work being done by the OCS Policy Committee, who have received both public and individual board members’ concerns. These will be taken into consideration – along with input from legal counsel – as we focus on creating a legally sound policy which will help keep meetings focused on the main business of the school system – educating our students.”