The Santa Fe County League of Women Voters has thrown its support behind suggestions from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government to the Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education regarding the latter's public comment policy.
NM FOG sent a letter to SFPS BoE President Barbara Gudwin last week exhorting the BoE not to attempt to restrict public comments, as it did at a June 21 BoE meeting when a Santa Fe parent's comments were squelched by Gudwin.
The League's letter states that the BoE's new public comment policy not attempt to restrict the public from discussing "personnel issues."
"Although we appreciate the Board’s desire to conduct its meetings in a circumspect manner and with respect for its employees and administration, we agree with FOG that First Amendment rights trump the employer’s discretion in such cases," League President Judy Williams wrote.
At the Aug. 2 meeting, BoE VP Glenn Wikle presented a draft policy that did not restrict comments related to personnel issues. SFPS counsel Tony Ortiz was not present at the meeting to give his alternative version, which is said to be more restrictive. Ortiz continues to assert that Gudwin acted appropriately in silencing the parent in question, Cate Moses.
At the urging of BoE member Steve Carrillo, the letter Moses intended to read at the June 21 meeting was to be read into the minutes of the Aug. 2 meeting as a partial remedy for the incident. SFPS Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez asked to read the letter herself because it contained allegations against her related to the "datagate" controversy, but the BoE voted against that and had Carrillo read it instead, deeming Gutierrez' suggestion "inappropriate."