There could be a compromise that softens the wording on the proposed ban on personal attacks at Wake County school board meetings.
A group of board members on both sides suggested watering down the language that would have barred personal attacks or insults. The new wording, which still needs to be vetted by board attorney Ann Majestic, says "speakers are encouraged to refrain from personal attacks and insults directed at the Board, individual Board members, staff or members of the general public."
The focus was on "are encouraged," which was suggested by board chairman Ron Margiotta. It came after board members Keith Sutton and John Tedesco raised concerns about the loss of personal liberties from the original language in the policy.
The first iteration of the policy said "speakers are required to refrain from personal attacks and insults..." But it drew complaints about violation of 1st Amendment free speech rights.
Majestic had proposed new wording today that would have incorporated language saying "speakers are welcome to offer comment or criticisms directed at substantive ideas, actions, or procedures of the Board, individual Board members or staff." She then tweaked the original language to go from saying "speakers are required" to say "however, speakers must refrain."
Sutton said he appreciated the new first sentence as showing they want to hear from the public. But he was still concerned about the "must refrain" wording.
Sutton suggested changing the wording to say "speakers are asked to refrain." School board member Debra Goldman, by far the strongest supporter of the new policy, suggested saying "should refrain."
Margiotta then suggested the wording "are encouraged." This rapidly got the support of other members with Goldman cautioning they need to run the change by Majestic first.