Minnesota suburb residents required to disclose home address to speak at school board meeting

Mankato School Board Chairwoman Jodi Sapp decreed the gathering was "not a meeting that belongs to the public."

Updated: October 28, 2021 - 11:52am

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The chairwoman of the Mankato, Minn., school board went viral earlier this week for a video in which she is seen telling parents who wish to speak that they are required to first announce their home address. 

The chairwoman, Jodi Sapp, is seen at an Oct. 18 meeting telling a man he will not be allowed to speak unless he discloses his home address. The man first objects, citing security concerns, but ultimately agrees to the demand.

The address cannot be heard in the video, but Sapp notably repeats the address to be sure that it is heard by the entire room. 

Earlier in the evening, Sapp announced that the gathering was "not a meeting that belongs to the public" and that anyone who spoke during the open forum was not permitted to criticize members of the board or address them individually. If a speaker violated that rule, the open forum would be closed immediately and the individual culprit would be barred from speaking at future school board meetings.

Sapp added that audience reactions to forum commentary were banned.

"Crowd noise, or any sort of grandstanding during open forum, including applause, talking, hollering or any outburst will result in open forum being closed," she said. "Further, beginning at the November 1 school board meeting, open forum participation will be limited to those individuals who wish to speak to an item on the board agenda."

The new rules follows the board's Oct. 4 meeting, during which several parents spoke out against the district's mask mandate for students in kindergarten through eighth grade and all staff while on school property, in addition to vaccine policies.

Some in attendance applauded speakers from the community that evening. Sapp considered the behavior to be "unacceptable."

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