Bill would give school boards more power to remove people disrupting meetings

A group of anonymous demonstrators calling themselves Guerrilla Momz protest against school closures during a rally to open schools for in-person instruction at Astro Park in Oakland on Feb. 28, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

A new bill in the state Senate would give school boards and other local governing agencies clearer authority to remove people for willfully interrupting a public meeting, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Current law already allows people to be removed from meetings for “willfully interrupting” them. The bill would clarify that “willfully interrupting” means “intentionally engaging in behavior during a meeting of a legislative body that substantially impairs or renders infeasible the orderly conduct of the meeting.” It would also require officials to issue a warning to participants before removing them.

The bill was introduced in response to attacks against the mayor of Los Gatos, but school board meetings have also become very contentious during the Covid-19 pandemic, with parents protesting mask and vaccine mandates.

In September, California School Boards Association Chief Executive Vernon M. Billy sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking him to address attacks against school board trustees.

“I’ve watched in horror as school board members have been accosted, verbally abused, physically assaulted, and subjected to death threats against themselves and their family members,” Billy wrote in the letter.

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