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Student comments prompt change to Lake Central School Board meeting procedure

screenshot from Lake Central School Corp. YouTube video
Cherie True questions the Lake Central School Board about a classroom poster during the board's Sept. 19 meeting.

Many Lake Central students can now have their comments to the school board kept out of official meeting records. The removal of rainbow flags and posters with the phrase "Black lives matter" prompted several students to speak out last month. Superintendent Dr. Larry Veracco notes that many of them were under 18.

"I did hear from a couple of parents who didn't know their children were going to speak, and they were concerned about their identity being out there, with not knowing what they were going to say," Veracco told the school board Monday.

Now, students under 18 are being given the option to use a separate signup sheet for public comment. Those who choose that option will still appear on the livestream but will be removed from the archived version. Veracco said the state's public access counselor had no objection, since school boards are not required to archive public comments as part of their records.

But the superintendent stressed that students could still choose the "regular" signup sheet, instead. "That may not satisfy all of the people who say, 'I didn't know my child was going to comment.' It's just that we are a public meeting, so I don't think we can tell a minor child they cannot sign up with all of the other adults," Veracco explained.

The classroom decorations and symbols continued to be debated during Monday's public comment period.