Pflugerville teachers on edge about new board meeting policy

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PFLUGERVILLE, TEXAS (KXAN) — Pflugerville teachers are upset about a new policy at board meetings. They say it limits public comment.

HB 2840 passed last legislative session. It requires governmental bodies to allow anyone who wants to speak on an agenda item a chance to do so.

The Pflugerville School District has always allowed for public comment on any matter, until now.

“It makes me sad. This is not the way we’ve operated in Pflugerville ISD,” said Pflugerville teacher Cindy Maroquio.

In Cindy Marquino’s 20 years as a Pflugerville school teacher, she says she’s never seen this happen.

“Our right to speak is being limited,” said Maroquio.

The Pflugerville Education Association is calling for the school board to change its new existing policy back.

“The house bill was written because there were meetings being held where people were not allowed to speak,” said Maroquio.

School Board President, Vernagene Mott, says the board isn’t disregarding other issues. This policy is simply so the most recent and timely information can be brought to the table.

“With three minutes, we could still not respond to them,” said Mott. “There are opportunities for anyone to speak through the chain of command.”

The Pflugerville ISD Education Association says it’s not that simple, as it takes weeks to get someone from the chain of command to respond.

August Pock is the president of the education association. He says if he wanted to request an item to be put on the agenda, then that can take a while too. Requesting an item requires two board trustees to sign off on it.

Maroquio says this happened to a few education teachers who tried to get an item on the agenda a while back.

“They tried unsuccessfully for two months to get that agenda item on the agenda,” said Maroquio.

Governmental bodies across Texas have changed their board meeting policies too. The Austin Independent School District allows for general public comment at the beginning of its meetings, but the comment time is now limited to one minute.

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