‘Intimidation, threats and vandalism’: school board members address harassment due to COVID policies
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Across the country, school board meetings have become battlegrounds in the fight over COVID policies.
On Monday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried held a virtual roundtable with some school board members who were being harassed.
“Many of them have experienced intimidation, threats, vandalism and other types of harassment simply for doing their jobs to try to protect our children,” Fried said.
School board members across the state expressed their frustration with the fight over masks, which many said distracts from broader goals.
“We’ve lost focus on many of the issues that we need to be addressing in order to focus on our mask rule,” said Kristine Kraus, a Broward County school board member.
Darryl Jones has served on Leon County’s school board since 2018 and said he has no problem with passionate public comment.
But he said meetings have been disrupted by outbursts and unkind commentary.
“There’s a distinct difference between passion and hostility,” Jones said.
Jones preferred not to speak about hostility he’s experienced, but one Leon County school board member shared an email they received a few months ago, which read “You showed the parents of Leon County what a P** you are. Get f***** *****.”
The district recently implemented a new security screening process at school board meetings to improve safety. Everyone entering now has to be screened using a metal detector.
“So that we can make certain that we’re operating in an optimal environment for public engagement, we want to make certain that all the persons who are in attendance are safe,” Jones said.
Jones said he’s saddened to see that political narratives have been used to divide the school district. But he says that won’t stop the board from doing its job.
“I stand tall and unrelenting,” Jones said. “You know someone can’t walk on your back unless you bend over, and I’m not bending.”
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