Davis School District Public Meeting Notices

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Board 2013
Davis School Board Members
Back left: David Lovato, Larry Smith, Peter Cannon, Kathie Bone
Front left: Barbara Smith, Superintendent Bowles, Tamara Lowe, Burke Larsen

   When I first attended a Davis District school board meeting, some four years ago in 2009, I noticed there was little opportunity for members of the public to speak to the school board in their formal school board meeting. I researched the board policy and found that if a citizen wants to bring up an issue to be heard on the agenda of the school board meeting they must submit the request in writing at least one week in advance of the next school board meeting. The board president has authority to decide whether to hear that matter at the coming board meeting. 

   If a citizen wants to comment on an item which already appears on the agenda of a coming board meeting she is required to submit a form explaining what she would like to say and submit that form 24 hours in advance to the board president. The board president then may or may not authorize the person to speak in the board meeting. This process is so restrictive and cumbersome that only one person has successfully requested permission to speak to the board at its meeting during the last four years.  

   As a new school board member, I asked the school board on numerous occasions to loosen the restrictions on public comment in our school board meetings. I've asked them to replicate the kind of comment openness that is available at the state legislative committee meetings. There each agenda item allows for public comment so the legislators feel comfortable that the public has been heard before they vote on the matter. For two years the school board refused to accept my request. 

   Board opposition to public comment in board meetings became a campaign issue during the 2012 election cycle. In January, after the elections were over, several board members indicated a new willingness to consider loosening the restrictions on public comment in school board meetings. After a two-month delay, the board discussed how we might modify our policy and then assigned our school district attorney to draft a revised policy. For some time we considered the wording of the newly drafted policy. Finally, on October 22 of 2013 the board held its final vote on approval of the revised policy. Click here to see proposed revised policy

   Before the final vote, I suggested a few changes to the proposed policy to make it more convenient and meaningful for citizens speaking to the board. My proposed amendments were rejected by the board. Larry Smith moved that we approve the new policy as originally presented to us. David Lovato, Kathy Bone, Burke Larsen, Barbara Smith and board chair Tamara Lowe voted against the motion. This left the Davis School District with the same old restrictive policy we have had for years.  

   All of the discussions in which I participated with the school board over the last four years have indicated that they really do not want the public to be able to comment in school board meetings. In discussions to revise our policy they consistently minimized the public opportunity to speak to the board in public. Then they voted against what little amount they had allowed into the proposed revision.

   Our government of the people and by the people needs more openness in hearing from its citizens. The Davis School Board would do well to emulate the example of our state House of Representatives and Senate in committee meetings.


  1. I don't live in Davis County, but I'm apalled at this. Thanks, Mr. Cannon, for sharing this information. I've shared it on my FB page. I'm amazed that parents and citizens haven't already made an issue of this.

  2. Sadly this doesn't surprise me. I have had contact with Superintendent Bowles, Tamera Lowe, and Larry Smith personally. Larry, in my opinion, listened to my concerns and tried very hard to address them. Superintendent Bowles and Tamera Lowe made it very clear that "normal" people can't possibly know as much as they do, or are not intelligent enough to understand what they do know, and are therefore unqualified to voice an opinion or a concern.

    So frustrating!

  3. We are new this school year to Davis County and came across a link to your post on FB. Reading back through your posts it is really disappointing to read how some issues are being handled through the school board. Thank you for bringing them to light. Do you have suggestions for the community/parents on what we can do?

  4. Julie,
    Here are a few things citizens can do to help turn some bad decisions around:
    1. Attend school board meetings. Your presence will be noticed!
    2. Jump through the current hoops to request permission to speak in board meeting. They will not reject your request forever.
    3. Be aware that this March is the date when candidates must file to run for Davis School Board in districts 3, 5, 6 and 7. I plan to run for re-election in district 3. I think David Lovato will seek re-election in district 5. Burke Larsen has said he will not run again in district 6. I expect Tamara Lowe will run again in district 7. Support candidates who have your perspective in the coming election. Especially rally others to support good candidates for Davis School board.

  5. It's Davis County as a whole. This place is a mess. Without going into specifics (which I have many and am not jaded) Davis County in general has got some serious problems.

  6. Wow!!! I'm from California, saw this on a family member's facebook page. Prior to moving to CA, we lived in Davis County for many years and we've always missed living there...this is very sad to hear...those board members were elected by the citizens of that county and as the PARENTS OF THE STUDENTS living in that area, and as tax paying citizens, they have the right to speak at these meetings. It looks like your school board has a policy that is much like the mess in Washington...it doesn't matter what the PEOPLE want, you will be TOLD how it's going to be. Bullying isn't just in the classroom...apparently it's more rampant in politics. Good luck with your upcoming election, I hope you can get the right people in there!

  7. Thanks for putting this blog together and helping us learn what is going on with the School Board. That is disappointing that a change wasn't made.