March 16, 2022

Indiana school board public comment bill signed into law

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the measure that requires Indiana school boards to allow public comment during their meetings. - Brandon Smith/IPB News

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the measure that requires Indiana school boards to allow public comment during their meetings.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana school boards will be required to allow public comment during their meetings under a bill that was signed Tuesday into law.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the measure that gained final legislative approval on March 2, according to the governor's office.

The new law taking effect July 1 mandates that school boards offer an oral public comment period at all public meetings, including those conducted virtually. The public is currently allowed to attend board meetings but those boards haven’t been required to allow those attending to speak at most sessions.

The legislation was proposed after confrontational or disruptive school board meetings over the last year saw some boards suspend or restrict public comment sessions.

An original version of the bill would have applied to the governing body of any state or local public agency, like city and county councils. That language was rolled back, however, limiting the bill to just school board meetings.

The final version allows school boards to adopt “reasonable rules” to accommodate public comment periods and maintain order in meetings. That includes setting time limits for those who speak and the removal of disruptive people.

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