Chicago school board considers allowing a month of public review and comment before it votes

The Chicago Board of Education plans to vote Wednesday on new rules making good on its promise to operate with more transparency and engage the public before making important decisions.

The rules, which would go into effect Sept. 26, allow time for the public to review and comment on proposed changes to school district policies. The proposal stipulates that the board may adopt, amend, repeal or suspend a policy only after taking three steps: 

  1. The proposed amendment or rule has been posted on the district’s website for 30 days with an invite for public comment. 
  2. All public comments have been posted in full on the district’s website, with omissions or redactions only for vulgar, defamatory or threatening language. 
  3. Board members have had at least 10 days to consider public comment.

The board also will vote on new rules that allow it to adopt or change policies on an interim basis without fulfilling the three conditions, only when the district must meet legal requirements “or other exigent circumstances.” Interim policies would expire in 90 days after adoption unless replaced by a final rule or policy. 

Related: Here are 7 big ways that Chicago school board meetings are changing

Wednesday marks the second time Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s appointed school board has met since it replaced the board named by her predecessor. 

Both Lightfoot and Board President Miguel del Valle have promised that the board would do its business differently, starting with cutting back on the long  closed-door deliberations that preceded votes on major decisions at the end of meetings. Last month, departing from tradition, the board openly debated all public agenda items and voted in public.