Mask mandate lawsuit is about local control, judge ruling coming soon
Last month ASBA announced it was part of a coalition of education and children’s advocacy organizations, as well as many impacted individuals, in challenging the anti-mask mandate law in a lawsuit against the state. On Monday, Sept. 13 oral arguments were heard in front of a judge to overturn several new Arizona laws that restrict the power of cities, counties and school districts to impose COVID-19 restrictions like mask mandates.
ASBA believes the question of whether to require masks should be left to school boards who know their communities best. School boards are elected officials that are elected by their constituents and should be able to decide local control issues for those communities they represent. A ruling could come at any time. ASBA will continue to keep members updated.
HNAIC asks for bylaw change during Hispanic Heritage Month
REGISTER NOW FOR THE SEPT. 30 WEBINAR!
Today is the start of Hispanic Heritage Month that runs from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 and the Hispanic-Native American Indian Caucus would like to celebrate by asking member districts to vote yes on a change to the ASBA bylaws to create a seat on the ASBA Board of Directors so that a Hispanic AND a Native American representative can serve at the same time.
In 1996, a group of Arizona school board members gathered together to form the HNAIC. Their goal was to ensure that the needs of Hispanic and Native students were known and addressed at the state level. The founders believed that representation on the Arizona School Boards Association Board of Directors was necessary to help achieve that goal, and through a change to the bylaws a single seat was added. It was progress, but it created a structural gap in representation that has lasted for 25 years. The seat alternates in two-year periods from a Hispanic representative to a Native American representative.
All members will be getting detailed information on this bylaw amendment as well as information on casting your board’s vote on Sept. 21. We’ll go over the details at your ASBA County Meeting and we also have a webinar planned Sept. 30 to answer any questions you may have. Register for the Sept. 30 webinar from 4-5 p.m. now.
Voting will be open on Sept. 21 and stay open through November. Not only do we need you to participate in the vote, but we also urge you to vote yes so that no students are left behind and no community goes unrepresented.
Clear, consistent communications can help prevent a divisive school board meeting
Written by Ann O’Brien, ASBA president
In recent months, protests, anger and shouting matches have become familiar scenes at school board meetings across the country. Arizona is no exception.
Meetings that were once described as orderly and uneventful have now become news headlines because of unruly attendees voicing their strong opinions on issues facing America’s schools today, namely mask mandates, treatment of transgender students and how to best introduce and approach equity in schools.
In a recent panel discussion on how to handle politically and emotionally charged school board meetings, Dr. Curtis Finch, superintendent in the Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) and Rob Hawes, an attorney from Gust Rosenfeld shared helpful guidelines on how school board members can prepare and conduct their meetings in the midst of great division among community members.
Keep the Open Meetings Law Book by Your Side
The Open Meetings Law ensures the public is given timely notification–at least 24 hours in advance–of any school board meetings. Details about the meetings must include the date, time, place and specific topics to be discussed by board members. More importantly, the Open Meetings Law also includes specific rules on public participation that are critical to conducting an orderly and productive meeting. It is important to allow for public comment on specific agenda topics but limiting the time for public comment is just as important to achieve balance and equity. This is where the Open Meetings Law’s rules on participation comes in handy and must be consistently enforced.
The panel members suggested, I highly recommend including the period or amount of time allotted for public comment on the meeting notice and to encourage the public to “register to speak” ahead of time to give the board members and staff a pulse of what the meeting will look like. For example, the Deer Valley Unified School District dedicates a total of 30 minutes for public comment, providing each speaker up to three minutes to comment, depending on the number of speakers. This is strictly enforced using a timer and instructing staff to “cut off” the audio when the timer goes off. This approach may sound a bit harsh to some, but the rules of participation allow this and ensure equal time to anyone who wish to speak.
Consistency is the Best Policy
There is a saying “Goals cannot be achieved without consistency.” Superintendent Finch, and all the panel members wholeheartedly agree. To achieve a productive school board meeting, board members must be steadfast in carrying out the various policies and protocols consistently. For example, for DVUSD board meetings:
- Promotion of how to register to speak and requiring the public to register ahead of the meeting are vital for meeting preparation, not only for the board members, but staff as well.
- The 30-minute public comment period 1-3 minutes given to each speaker has always been the norm, with time divided amongst the speakers with a 3-minute maximum to give equal time for everyone to be heard.
- The DVUSD Board has always indicated any disclaimers ahead of time, often including them in the meeting notification.
- Prior to starting the meeting, DVUSD staff reminds the public in attendance of the procedures and protocols of the meeting, particularly the importance of focusing their comments on the agenda item being discussed.
In these times of unpredictable school board meetings, consistency will be key to a fruitful meeting. Undoubtedly, consistency in board meetings means predictability. When the public has a good understanding of how board members will respond and what to expect during a meeting, it increases engagement and satisfaction, which leads to great productivity.
Finally, constant communication with the public, other board members and staff will be key to a successful meeting. Everyone wants to be involved and keeping them informed achieves that. From developing clear and concise meeting agendas for the public, to having the right technology for easier access to meetings, to talking to staff before and after the meeting, good and constant communication is a very important element in preventing a divisive school board meeting and ensuring the board hears from their constituents.
Apply for ASBA Annual Awards
Nominations are now open and close Oct. 22
It’s your time to shine. We want to celebrate your district’s achievements! Participate in the ASBA Annual Awards Program.
This year, we are seeing nominations for the following awards:
Lou Ella Kleinz Excellence in Governance Award
The Lou Ella Kleinz Excellence in Governance Award is ASBA’s highest honor for a full board. This award recognizes an Arizona school board that has demonstrated outstanding education leadership for the year.
All-Arizona School Board Member Award
The All-Arizona School Board Member Award is ASBA’s highest individual board member honor. This award is bestowed on up to five Arizona school board members who exemplify best practices in boardsmanship, understand their roles and follow through on their responsibilities.
Honor Roll Award
The Honor Roll Award recognizes retiring board members who were nominated by their boards for outstanding service.
ASBA Golden Bell Promise Program Award
The Golden Bell Awards recognizes school initiatives from throughout the state that maximize the promise in each and every student and have shown outstanding student growth and success.
ASBA Pillar Award for Advocacy
The Arizona School Boards Association Pillar Award for Advocacy recognizes school board members for service in the advocacy arena that goes above and beyond their regular board duties. The pin will be awarded to members who have accumulated a total of 125 points based on the below activities.
School district governing board membership in the Arizona School Boards Association is required to nominate/apply for an award and to receive an award.
All nominations and entries must be submitted using the online forms. Nominations are now open and close Oct. 22.
Please note: The Honor Roll Award is the only award that closes November 20 (for recognizing retiring board members).
Delegates and the County Director election process PLUS board agenda item
Attention ASAP members model agenda below
County Meetings will be held virtually so this means school boards will be voting electronically for County Director elections. It is important that school boards appoint a delegate to vote on behalf of the board in advance.
Please review the process below to minimize any questions and confusion.
- Voting will take place electronically during the meeting.
- Each member district board in the county is entitled to one vote.
- Each board must appoint in advance a delegate (and an alternate, if desired) who may cast the board’s vote for County Director. If your board already named a delegate for the ASBA Delegate Assembly, that same person can remain your delegate for this vote as well. If you did not select a delegate for the Delegate Assembly or you would like to name a different delegate, please select one for the County Meeting and let ASBA know who it is no later than one week prior to your county meeting using this link below.
- Sample agenda language for selecting your county director election delegate is below.
- Your delegate (or alternate) must be at the meeting to vote
Tell Us Who Your Delegate Is Use this form to identify your board’s delegate who will be able to vote for County Director at the County Meeting.
Model Governing Board Agenda Item Model agenda item for selection of board delegate (may be consent if no discussion required) Consideration and possible action to appoint [NAME] to represent [DISTRICT NAME] as the board delegate to the Arizona School Boards Association County Meeting on [DATE].
Present at the ASBA/ASA Annual Conference
A great opportunity for board members and districts to present on impactful programs
We are currently looking for 50-minute breakout sessions for Annual Conference 2021 that fall under the tracks: Communications, Climate and Culture, Social Emotional Learning/Trauma-Informed Care and Student Achievement.
The deadline for consideration is Friday, Oct. 1. If you have any questions about presenting, please reach out to Nikkie Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-254-1100.
All details can be found here
Read the latest AZEdNews on Survey: Voters support school mask mandates & local control
Arizona voters statewide showed support for school mask mandates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and school boards’ local control in making those decisions that affect students in their communities in a recent survey paid for by………read full article
Yuma County Director Tadeo De La Hoya
ASBA Events and Webinars
September 21 – November 4, 2021: ASBA (Virtual) County Meetings 2021
September 24, 2021: ASAP Workshop
December 15-18, 2021: ASBA-ASA 64th Annual Conference
Upcoming ASBA Webinars
September 27, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.: Lunch and Learn Webinar: The Do’s and Don’ts of School District Ballot Issues
September 30, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.: Bylaw Amendment Webinar
November 29, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.: Lunch and Learn Webinar: Ask the Experts: An Interactive Conversation
Plus more! You can find all Wednesday webinars on the ASBA webpage, https://azsba.org/events-asba/. Can’t view the webinar live? No problem. Go ahead and register and you will receive the recording automatically by email so you can view it later. There is no cost to register for this webinar. We encourage advance registration.