New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | May 30, 2023

CC School Board reconsidering public comment decision

By Alan Chamberlain | June 24, 2010 9:25 am

Public concern apparently is prompting Charles City School Board members to reconsider a recent decision that eliminated a public comment session on non-agenda items from the board’s regular meeting agenda.

Citing response from the community, board chairman Roy Campbell announced during the group’s June 15 meeting that board members are studying the matter and could address reinstating the session during their July 20 meeting.

“If the board decides to revisit and put this back on the agenda, there’s the matter of conduct. You have to be respectful,” he told the crowd gathered for last week’s meeting. “I know there’s freedom of speech, but you have the responsibility to be respectful.”

Tempers flared during a tumultuous April 20 board meeting when Campbell announced the decision to permanently do away with the session. Immediately, frequent critics who regularly address the board, including county residents Steve Fuhrmann and Peter Churins, expressed dismay. Campbell eventually ordered Fuhrmann to sit down and Churins to leave the meeting room.

“Things have gotten a little bit out of hand,” Campbell said concerning the decision that night. “We just want to put things back in perspective.”

In a separate interview later, Campbell said removing the session is a bid to restore order, and anyone wishing to discuss non-agenda items could do so by reserving a spot on the agenda.

Last week’s agenda listed an item labeled “Guidelines for Addressing Non-Agenda School Issues.” But instead of discussion on guidelines, Campbell announced the board’s plan to take action next month.

“If we do decide to put it back, you only get to speak once on an issue,” he said. “You don’t get to come back over and over every month with the same issue.”

Afterward, Fuhrmann said he is hopeful that the board reverses its earlier decision.

“I’d like to have heard some discussion tonight,” he said. “To rescind something, they need a month to think about it? Personally, I don’t see what’s to think about; it’s an unconstitutional action.”

In other business, the board voted 5-0 to authorize application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for staging a naturalization ceremony for immigrants in the high school auditorium in October.

Close to 45 immigrants would take the oath of citizenship during the ceremony. There is no cost to the county, unless county officials plan to hold a reception afterward. School officials plan to make the ceremony available to as many county students as possible. Rendell Jones, a Charles City graduate who works with the immigration service in Washington, D.C., is assisting with the effort.