Speak at a Board of Education Meeting

Powel parents Anne Pomerantz and Sonya Brintnall among dozens of speakers lined up to testify at an SRC neighborhood meeting in West Philadelphia. (Photo: Parents United for Public Education)

Board of Education meetings can be an effective way to communicate directly with the school board and district. School board meetings are a public venue and are routinely covered by the Philadelphia Inquirer and other print media, as well as by radio, including WHYY and KYW1060.

The Board of Education holds action meetings once a month. Generally, they are held at the School District of Philadelphia headquarters at 440 N. Broad Street, however they are currently being held over Zoom.

Meeting Schedule & Materials

You can find the full calendar of BoE meetings, including the monthly action meetings and any additional hearings or policy committee meetings, on their website. All meeting agendas and minutes are posted in the Meeting Materials section of their website.

Register to Speak

The BoE has recently (as of January 2021) changed its policies for speakers, limiting the number and duration of speakers significantly. Here’s what you should know about signing up to speak:

  • There is a maximum of 10 student speakers and 30 other speakers per meeting
  • Speakers who spoke at the previous meeting are prioritized after those who did not speak at that meeting
  • Each speaker is given a maximum of 2 minutes to provide testimony
  • Speaker registration opens at 5pm on the Monday prior to the action meeting and closes when all slots are filled or 5pm the day prior to the meeting, whichever is first
  • Students can register using the student form
  • Non-students can register using the general form
  • The form asks you for identifying and contact information, as well as the topic of your testimony
  • You can also register by calling 215-400-5959, but the office may be closed when registration opens and it is first come, first served
  • After registering, you should expect to receive a confirmation email
  • You can read the full set of policies for speaking here

The speaking experience over Zoom is roughly as follows:

  • The day of the meeting, you will receive an email in the morning with logistical information including the Zoom link.
  • In advance of the meeting, make sure you have updated your Zoom application to the newest version to prevent any issues during the meeting (many speakers seem to have trouble with this). If you do not wish to download the application, you’ll want to use the dial in phone number provided in the email instead.
  • At the time of the meeting, join the meeting via Zoom. You will be able to watch the meeting over Zoom until it is your time to speak. You will not be visible at any point during the meeting and you will not be able to unmute until it is your turn to speak.
  • Once it is your turn to speak, you will receive a prompt via Zoom to unmute yourself. You will then have 2 minutes to give your testimony. At the end of your time, you will be abruptly cut off and automatically muted.
  • After you are finished speaking, you can either continue to watch the remainder of the meeting over Zoom or you can leave the meeting and watch the rest via live stream (or call it a night).

Send Written Testimony

If you are unable to speak, you are encouraged to send written testimony to be added to the public record. Per the BoE policy, you can submit written testimony up to 48 hours before each meeting.

Your testimony should be sent via email to schoolboard@philasd.org and you should include “Board Comments” in your subject. The most recent policy also asks that you include your name and address (city, state, and zip code should be sufficient if you prefer not to send your full address).

Note that all written testimony gets included in full (with personal contact information redacted) in the meeting materials online, and is also summarized aloud during the meeting.