Florida mother ejected from board meeting for what chairwoman thought she would say

A Florida parent was removed from a school board meeting last week after being asked to leave for what she was about to say during the public comment period. 

The mother of four, Melissa Bakondy, referenced a school board member by name to address comments made by that board member in the previous board meeting of Sarasota County Schools.

Bakondy started her address, “At the last meeting, Shirley Brown was caught on the microphone –”

Board Chairwoman Jane Goodwin immediately cut her off: “Stop talking about school board members…You cannot go and expound on school board members. I’ve warned you several times.”

Bakondy then tried to respond, though her mic was cut off, asking which policy she violated and why the board silenced her. Goodwin fired back, “You were about to say something horrible about Shirley Brown. …You’ve said things about me that were untrue. Leave, please.”

During the exchange, in which only Goodwin can be heard on a mic, she asked Bakondy, “Do you have children in our school district?”

Conservative board member Bridget Ziegler gasped and interjected, telling Goodwin, “That is not appropriate. You don’t get to ask people who come to a public meeting whether they have children or not. Period. You are way out of line.”

Ziegler’s Husband, a Florida GOP Vice Chairman, posted a video of the incident on Twitter, asking how this exchange was not a violation of the First Amendment.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Bakondy referred to Goodwin as “the queen of no public input.”

Bakondy also believes the liberal-majority school board is “destroying our school district, targeting parents and eliminating dissent.” In addition, both Bakondy and Ziegler say that Goodwin and the other two liberal board members are shutting down parents’ First Amendment rights. 

“Every citizen, taxpayer and parent has a right to speak at public meetings and share their input,” Bakondy said, adding, “Ms. Goodwin doesn’t want to hear that… This is the ultimate form of censorship.”

Bakondy also expressed worry that her children could be targeted by the district, as three of her four children return next year.

This all follows a 3-2 vote in March in which the board cut down public comment time from three to two minutes per person during meetings, as well as limited the public comment period to no more than one hour total.

Ziegler, who voted against the policy, said, “[Taxpayers] 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.”