State school board may be exempted from some public hearings

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SALT LAKE CITY—The Utah State Board of Education may be subject to new public hearing rules. 

Administrative Rules Committee Chair and Sen. Howard A. Stephenson, R-Draper, raised this issue in mid January.  He put it this way: the State School Board acts as a legislative body. If the Board legislates, why should they have to go through an additional rule-making process that executive branch agencies, who don’t legislate, have to go through?

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
The Utah Legislature starts its 2016 session on Jan. 25.

Angie Stallings, Utah’s associate school uperintendent, described the redundance that the public hearings rule brings to the School Board’s business. The Board’s process of revising rules is highly public and transparent. They post each new rule revision under consideration in real time to the Board’s website and allow for a 30-day comment period.

However, because of provisions in the Administrative Rulemaking Act, parties who want to take legal action against the School Board have to both express their comments in writing and call for a public hearing.

“It’s the same comments from the same parties that we get in the public hearings,” Stallings said, adding, “We had more hearings this last year than we have had in any other year.”

Stephenson acknowledged that revising the rules would be helpful for not only the School Board but the parties with complaints.

 

“It sounds like they would rather do away with the duplicate process too,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson concluded that the committee has on their hands a “very cumbersome process” in which plaintiffs have to “make sure that they have exhausted administrative rules,” creating more work for everyone involved.

Stephenson issued to place a motion that a bill file be opened to consider changing the process for the State Board of Education. The motion was supported and will be sent for review during this year’s legislative session.

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