It should get easier for non-profit community groups to distribute materials to students in Wake County schools.
The school board signed off Tuesday on new research and procedures (R&P) that say principals must permit distribution of publications about activities from non-profit community organizations with youth participation of over 500. But the R&P still allows principals to place "reasonable limits" on when and how often the material can be distributed.
School board attorney Ann Majestic said that she'll explain the new distribution procedures to principals at a countywide meeting today. R&P is what's developed by staff to carry out board policies.
The change was made at the urging of school board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman. She said she was concerned that the old R&P shut out groups such as faith-based organizations and the Boy Scouts.
Majestic said the R&P had to be carefully crafted to deal with First Amendment concerns and to provide consistency across schools. She said she had written the last prior revision in 2006 because principals were inconsistently handling requests.
"What this is trying to do is be very careful not to trip the First Amendment line," Majestic said of the R&P. "The First Amendment line is you can place reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on communications. But you have to avoid differentiating by viewpoint."
In addition to mandating the 500 youth minimum, the draft submitted Tuesday by Majestic also said that the non-profit community organizations must have countywide impact. But Goldman objected to requiring the groups to have both countywide impact and to have more than 500 kids.
Goldman argued that some non-profit groups serve specific areas and have less than 500 kids.
Majestic said she has used the 500 number to avoid principals being flooded with too many requests from different groups.
After further discussion, Goldman said she could accept leaving in the 500 number for now as long as the requirement for countywide impact was removed.
Goldman said she hopes the R&P change will result in non-profit groups being able to share with families more information about mentoring and tutoring options.
Here's the old R&P.
Here's the new R&P that was submitted Tuesday. As noted above, the wording about countywide impact will be removed.
The "f" section on the draft about non-profits was put in the wrong place. It should run after the "e" section. All the wording that comes after "e" covers sections "a" through "f."
The draft also mentions that organizations must verify their non-profit status with documentation from the IRS. At school board member Keith Sutton's urging, Majestic will look into whether groups can get similar documentation from the state.
The draft also says that principals "shall permit" distribution. Majestic said that means must, which she'll communicate to principals.
Goldman said that some of the concerns raised about additional work being placed on school staff is overstated. She pointed to the section in the R&P that says that groups must bundle the material in groups of 30. It won't be staff doing that work.
For clarity, I've decided to directly add the new material into the post instead of leaving it separately. All the updated material is in bold.