Following an incident at a Sarasota School Board meeting during which she was forcibly removed for what she was “about to say,” a Florida mother of four says the liberal-leaning board is “destroying our school district, targeting parents, and eliminating dissent.”
And now she has a bigger platform.
Police officers surrounded Melissa Bakondy on Tuesday and escorted her from the meeting after Bakondy brought up a board member and comments she allegedly made at the last board meeting.
Bakondy began her statement with, “At the last meeting, Shirley Brown was caught on the microphone–”
And that’s as far as she got before being interrupted by board Chairwoman Jane Goodwin.
“Stop talking about school board members,” Goodwin commanded. “You cannot go and expound on school board members. I’ve warned you several times.”
Bakondy asked why, and Goodwin shot back, “You were about to say something horrible about Shirley Brown. … You’ve said things about me that were untrue. Leave, please.”
Goodwin then asked Bakondy a question that drew gasps from others in attendance: “Do you have children in our school district?”
Conservative board member Bridget Ziegler, whose husband is Florida GOP Vice Chairman Christian Ziegler, backed Bakondy.
“That is not appropriate. … You don’t get to ask people who come to a public meeting whether they have children or not. Period,” Bridget Ziegler fired back. “You are way out of line.”
Christian Ziegler posted part of the heated exchange on Twitter and asked, “How is the NOT a violation of the First Amendment?”
Speaking Thursday with Fox News Digital, posed the same question, calling Goodwin “the queen of no public input.”
“Every citizen taxpayer and parent has a right to speak at public meetings and share their input,” Bakondy said. “Ms. Goodwin doesn’t want to hear that. … This is the ultimate form of censorship, and they are destroying our school district, targeting parents and eliminating dissent.”
“I do have four children,” Bakondy continued, “and three of them will be going back to public school next year, and after this, I worry that they’re a target.”
After months of debate, say Bakondy and Bridget Ziegler, the board voted 3-2 to limit public comment time, cutting the allotted time from three minutes down to just two at board meetings and allowing only one hour for comments per meeting, albeit with an extension option. The new policy also moved any comments non-agenda items to the end of the meeting.
Ziegler, who voted against the new rules, claimed the board “spent four or five months, maybe more, on various reiterations of how to amend the public comment policy.”
“If that doesn’t illustrate how out of touch their role is and what their job is to serve the public, I don’t know what is,” Ziegler said.
Again, Ziegler called Goodwin’s question about Bakondy’s parental status “inappropriate.”
“We work for the people, the people are our bosses, the parents are our customers,” Ziegler said. “And it’s interesting, when it comes to collecting taxes, it doesn’t seem like these qualifying questions are asked.”
“[T]axpayers pay our salaries, they pay the money to run and operate the entire district and educate our students, and for them to be met with disdain and in such a hostile way is disgusting and very frustrating,” added Ziegler, who is running for re-election this year.
According to Ziegler, “out of touch, power hungry, oftentimes very progressive liberals” have “overtaken school boards.” She called the incident with Bakondy “grotesque” and said that moments such as this will, on a national level, most certainly impact upcoming elections.
Meanwhile, Goodwin apparently dismissed Ziegler’s criticism of the board as a bid to score political points.
“I know that you’re running for school board [inaudible],” Goodwin was overheard telling Ziegler during the recess that followed Bakondy’s ejection.
“I have yet to ever use the dais for a political purpose in any manner, yet I could give you countless examples, and that is just one more that they thing things through much more of a political lens versus a policy and public servant lens,” Ziegler told Fox News Digital.
On Twitter, Bakondy, Ziegler, and conservative parents are enjoying a flood of support.
“So Sarasota School Board Chair, Jane Goodwin, is now blocking anyone from exercising free speech at meetings especially if speaking truth?” asked one user.
“Love seeing these school board members who used to remain in their jobs by default finally getting push back and others to run to oust them,” tweeted another.
“School boards need to get use to parents speaking out,” tweeted a third. “They must remember the board is accountable to them and not the other way around.”
So Sarasota School Board Chair, Jane Goodwin, is now blocking anyone from exercising free speech at meetings especially if speaking truth?
— NoTaxForTracksP-FreedomFlu 🍊 (@NoTaxForTracksP) April 21, 2022
Love seeing these school board members who used to remain in their jobs by default finally getting push back and others to run to oust them.
— Orcatra (@orcatra) April 21, 2022
School boards need to get use to parents speaking out . They must remember the board is accountable to them and not the other way around.
— Geraldine Russak (@RussakGeraldine) April 22, 2022
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