A Quick Guide to Public Meetings of the Warren Township Board of Education
Open Public Meetings Act (“Sunshine Law”)
New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act which is commonly referred to as the “Sunshine Law”, was enacted in 1975. It establishes the right of all citizens to have adequate advance notice of all public meetings and the right to attend meetings at which any business affecting the public is discussed or acted upon by a majority of Board members. There are exceptions that permit Boards to hold discussions in closed, or executive session. These topics include negotiations, personnel matters, legal issues and student privacy.
State law requires one public comment period at board meetings. Boards use the public comment periods as an opportunity to listen to citizen concerns, but not to debate issues or enter into a question-and-answer session between the public and individual members. Be aware that not all issues brought before a board meeting will be resolved that evening; boards may respond to public comment by seeking additional information or by delegating the authority to investigate the issue to the superintendent or his/her designee. In addition, boards typically establish guidelines on the time, place and manner of public comments.
The Warren Township BOE welcomes public comments twice at each meeting.
- Immediately prior to the action portion of the agenda, the public is invited to comment on any “Items for Board Consideration/Action.” This includes the Education, Finance/Operations/Transportation, Personnel/Student Services, and Policy Sections. If time allows, comments will be open to any business thus far discussed at the meeting.
- Near the end of the meeting, the public is invited to comment on any topic that pertains to Board business.
Please follow the guidelines which apply to both public comment periods:
- Each person is legally required to preface comments by stating his/her name and address.
- Each person may speak for a maximum of three minutes.
- Each person may speak one time per topic.
- Comments should be directed to the Board President and may not address Board members, staff, or other members of the public directly.
Other Avenues for Addressing Questions and Concerns
It is best to work up the chain of command when there is a question or concern. For example, if there is an issue with a teacher, the parent should first address it with the teacher and, if unresolved, turn to the principal and/or supervisor, and ultimately to the superintendent. Board action is limited in these areas and should be the final step when all other avenues have been exhausted. Many times it is quicker and easier to get an answer by reaching out to the more appropriate person in the chain of command.