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OM 20-49 Fiero v. Rhode Island Department of Education Council on K12 No violation

The Complainant alleged that RIDE violated the OMA and the Governor's Executive Order when participants at its July 21, 2020 virtual meeting were not permitted to activate their videos or use a chat box feature. The OMA expressly provides that it does not require "any public body to hold an open forum session, to entertain or respond to any topic nor does it prohibit any public body from limiting comment on any topic at such an open forum session." R.I. Gen. Laws 42-46-6(d). As Complainant did not identify any provision within the OMA or the Governor's Executive Order that requires a public body to permit members of the public to be visible and to non-verbally express themselves at a meeting, and we are aware of no such provision, we found that RIDE did not violate the OMA or the Governor's Executive Order. We noted, however, that citizen engagement is an important part of governance and public bodies are certainly encouraged to provide opportunities for public comment and expression when possible.

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