Sep 14, 2021 - Politics
Fed-up Sarasota County school board bans criticism of members
Illustration of an angry emoji with duct tape over its mouth.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Sarasota County school board is sick and tired of hearing citizens complain, so it banned criticism of individual board members during meetings.

  • At a meeting last week, Vice Chairwoman Jane Goodwin — standing in for Chairwoman Shirley Brown, who lost control of the meeting — directed police to remove citizens who criticized specific elected officials during the public comment period, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.
  • "This is not McCurdy's Comedy Club," Goodwin told the Herald-Tribune. "This is a professional board meeting ... It has to be tightened up in terms of what people are allowed to say."

Yes, but: Even though board members explained that the open-ended verbal assaults were taking up time that could be spent on more productive debate, the move further riled some.

  • The board has "single-handedly activated and motivated every single mom, dad and voter in this county," said one man.

The big picture: School board meetings have become the new political arena nationwide, sometimes turning violent over hot-button culture war topics.

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