The chair of one Florida board of education apparently believes freedom of speech only applies to speech she agrees with.
Sarasota County Schools Board of Education Chair, Jane Goodwin, put the hammer down on one resident of her community.
She ordered a community member to stop speaking and had three uniformed officers remove her from a Tuesday public board meeting.
Florida GOP Vice Chairman, Christian Ziegler, posted a video clip of the exchange to his Twitter account, Wednesday, which has been viewed almost 80,000 times.
“Sarasota County (FL) School Board Chairman orders police to throw a citizen out of a Public Meeting because she was…’about to say something horrible [about a school board member] during her public comment,'” commented Mr. Ziegler.
Melissa Bakondy, a mother of four, was surrounded by police officers and removed from the Sarasota County School Board Meeting after speaking a board member’s name. Goodwin chided her for using board member Shirley Brown’s name as she began her public comments, saying she had made untrue remarks about Brown and Goodwin before.
“You were about to say something horrible about Shirley Brown,” Goodwin replied to Bakondy’s question of why she was ordered to stop speaking. “You’ve said things about me that were untrue.”
Bakondy made no move to immediately leave, so uniformed law enforcement approached her at the lectern one-by-one until she was surrounded by three armed officers.
It is unclear how the board chair knew what the mom of four was about to say before she said it. Goodwin did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
“Every citizen taxpayer and parent has a right to speak at public meetings and share their input,” Bakondy reportedly 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.”
It is unclear if Goodwin acted contrary to statute by silencing and removing Bakondy for speaking Shirley Brown’s name.
A phone call seeking comment from the Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran, was not immediately returned.
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