Jodi Sapp, the chair of the board for Mankato Area Public Schools, laid out new rules before the open forum on Oct. 18, including prohibiting residents from addressing individual school board members and requiring that every speaker publicly state the address of their home.
"Before the open forum, I would like to review a couple of things," Sapp said. "Each speaker is asked to state his or her name and address for the record. Failure to do so will result in an individual not being allowed to speak."
The new rules, which were first reported by Alpha News, came after "behavior by some of the members of the public" that Sapp considered "unacceptable."
"Open forum participants are prohibited from calling out or addressing any individual school board or school district staff member," Sapp also stated before residents were allowed to speak.
"Crowd noise, or any sort of grandstanding during open forum, including applause, talking, hollering or any outburst will result in open forum being closed. Further, beginning at the Nov. 1 school board meeting, open forum participation will be limited to those individuals who wish to speak to an item on the board agenda."
Mankato residents have mostly shared their concerns about a resolution passed by the board Aug. 18 that requires face masks for all "Mankato Area Public Schools K-8 students and staff regardless of vaccination status when inside district buildings and on school buses." That resolution also requires weekly testing for unvaccinated staff members.
Sapp and other members of the school board did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the new requirements.