Editor’s note: Following is a letter addressed to Westport Board of Education members, and a copy submitted for publication to the Westport Journal.

Ladies and gentlemen:

I write to express my dismay over your walkout at the latest board meeting. The way you handled the matter was wrong and inexcusable.

I understand fully that you have a policy fixing time limits for public comment and I understand the reasons behind such a policy, but surely those limits can be waived or extended to accommodate an issue as important as that sought to be addressed by the parents and masked (masked!) children who appeared at your meeting to voice their legitimate concerns over racism in the schools.

You might have done any one of a number of things short of being rude and disrespectful to our fellow citizens. For example, you might have waived or extended the time limits for public comment or, if your agenda did not permit that, you might have scheduled a special meeting devoted to the issue. 

But to have turned your back on these complainants was rude, dismissive, insulting and not at all the type of behavior we should be modeling for our children. Your impatience and insistence on adherence to an arbitrary and unfairly restrictive rule only reinforces a perception of intolerance, lack of concern and resistance to criticism.

I urge you to correct matters by offering an apology for your ill-considered action and by scheduling a special meeting for public comment. If you feel there is a need to impose control over public comment, you might consider requiring those who want to be heard to sign up in advance, and if that’s not enough, to submit a summary of their remarks. But however you choose to handle the matter, you should acknowledge your error and create a forum where you relinquish control and just listen.

Lawrence Weisman, Westport