Nebraska education official says senator’s claim about public comment is false

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Photo courtesy Nebraska Legislature

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A Nebraska senator is claiming that the State Board of Education “abruptly canceled” the public comment period at its next meeting.

But that is untrue, according to Nebraska Department of Education spokesman David Jespersen.

State Sen. Dave Murman released a statement Tuesday on the agenda for the next meeting.

Murman claimed that the board chose to cancel its public comment period for its Nov. 4 meeting, thus silencing the voices of parents.

Murman’s full statement

“The Nebraska Board of Education has long held a public comment period where citizens can interact with their elected members of Government in their official capacity. Yesterday, the board decided that after a slew of oversight failures, including the imposing of a regimen of Critical Race Theory on teachers, they would shut down the voices of parents before an election.

“The Nebraska Board of Education has fallen in line with those they’re supposed to oversee, and they have decided to play politics instead of doing what is best for Nebraska children and working on behalf of the citizen. I wholeheartedly condemn this action and call on the Board to open up their meeting for public comment.”

Jespersen said the agenda, which is released every Thursday prior to the board’s meetings, did not include a public comment period.

He said it isn’t abnormal for the board to forgo public comment, as it’s done that several times, including this January.

Jespersen added that state law only requires the board to meet four times a year, but he says they meet around 11 times annually.

Of those meetings, only one is required to include a public comment period, but Jespersen said most typically do.

There are myriad reasons why a meeting may not include public comment, according to Jespersen.

Those reasons could be timing, or whatever is on the agenda for that meeting.

Jespersen said Murman’s claims include “a lot of inaccuracies” and “a lot of politics.”

In fact, the board of education is accepting public comment in the form of a written statement.

Parents wanting to voice their concerns can go to the department’s website to write a comment, which will be sent to every board member.

On Oct. 17, Murman and three other state senators gathered at the Capitol rotunda to call for an investigation into the Department of Education.

The group claimed that the website Launch Nebraska, which was used to help schools reopen from pandemic closures, shifted its focus to “left-wing agenda items.”

The lawmakers pointed to a link on the department’s website.

After several clicks, it led to a PDF on critical race theory, which is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism, according to the Associated Press.

Jespersen told Channel 8 that the document was never directly attached to its website, but instead, the link went to a cultural responsive education hub, which led people to the PDF.

SEE ALSO: Nebraska lawmakers call for investigation into the Department of Education

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