San Diego Unified

SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT POISED TO PILOT “BOOST DEMOCRACY” PROGRAM, IMPROVE PUBLIC ACCESS TO MEETINGS

By Miriam Raftery

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Photo: Shane Harris President of People's Association of Justice Advocates speaks Thursday at announcement as San Diego Unified School District Board President Richard Barrera looks on. (Photo via SDUSD)

July 9, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego Unified School District's board of trustees is poised to become the first public agency to adopt a “Boost Democracy” proposal by Rev. Shane Harris, President of the People’s Association of Justice Advocates. During its July 13 meeting, the board will test out allowing members of the public to receive a text message on request shortly before an agenda item they wish to speak on comes up. Harris hopes to have other government agencies across our region and nation follow suit.

Harris said that COVID-19 turned public meetings into a telecommunications platforms through online programs such as Zoom. “People engaged, people woke up, and people spoke up” about concerns ranging from COVID-19 to their children’s education.  “The central place that something going on was at these public meetings....One of the things I saw during this time was a breakdown in efficiency. It made government meetings more accessible,” since people could call in from where they were at, “but it did not make government meetings more efficient.” He said he saw mothers caring for children, activists and business owners calling in for meetings and waiting hours sometimes to speak on agenda items.