School Board Clears The Room.

This past Tuesday, the Brevard School Board held a meeting to once again consider the mask issue for students and employees.

The meeting goes rather well with people being respectful of other’s comments and opinions made during the public comment portion of the meeting.

It was after the public comments that the fireworks started.

Board member Misty Jenkins made comments that the mask mandate within the schools must be working as the number of cases within the schools is dropping as compared to the community at large. (Her comments can be seen starting around the 32:35 mark.)

There are a couple of things in play that Jenkins does not consider. First, many schools around the county are showing the same decline without mask mandates. The thought is that the students as a group are forming their own herd immunity. Secondly, COVID and COVID infection rates show a puzzling two month cycle where rates go down only to rise again. Scientists know the trend, but are at a loss to explain it. The last “bump” was at the end of August, which means now that we are in the two month down turn of cases.

We are not saying that those factors are what is driving the downturn of infection rates in schools. What we are saying is that Jenkins, like so many people, takes data and then cherry picks a conclusion that supports her beliefs.

Jenkins also mentioned the death of another school employee saying it breaks her heart to get calls that say that another worker has passed away. She uses that death to justify her continued support of the mask mandate.

However, if she really supported a mask mandate, she would support the wearing of masks. Instead, Jenkins and others support the wearing of face coverings, which according to the CDC and other studies are only 10% effective in the prevention of the spread of COVID. The School Board has failed to mandate the N95 mask which is the only effective mask against the spread of COVID. In short, if the woman that passed away was wearing a face covering and not a N95 mask that the School Board should be providing, that is on the School Board. If Jenkins is going to make the claim that the need for face coverings is due to deaths, then the logical step is to require masks that actually work.

Still, that is not our concern with what happened.

Jenkins launched into a diatribe against Representatives Randy Fine and Debbie Mayfield. Both Fine and Mayfield had made shots across the bow of the School Board, and so one could expect that someone would fire back.

Board member Matt Susin said something in response to Jenkins’ comments. The crowd reacted to the exchange.

Jenkins made more comments to which the crowd reacted, and Chairperson Misty Belford took a recess and had the room cleared.

When the Board reconvened, audience members were not allowed in the room.

Under the so called School Board Rules, citizens are not allowed to say anything negative against another person – including elected officials. As we have discussed before, this is a clear violation of the First Amendment which does not allow for “viewpoint discrimination” by the government. If the Board allows positive comments, it must allow negative comments. However, there is a difference between the members of the School Board who agree to play by those rules, and the citizens who do not agree to play by those rules and cannot be forced to play by them.

When Jenkins violated the School Board’s Rules for comments, she was not reprimanded by Belford. Jenkins was not told her comments were inappropriate. She was not told they were against Board rules.

This is part of a continuing pattern from the School Board of “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

Putting the First Amendment aside for a moment, if Jenkins – or any Board member – can make negative comments about other people, the average citizen can as well.

Yet Belford and the School Board doesn’t see it that way.

They view themselves as special.

When there was a crowd outburst, we have no problems with Belford saying to individuals, “you have disrupted the meeting and you need to leave.” We have no problem with Brevard County’s finest escorting individuals out.

However, the School Board is still a public meeting. It still needs to be open to the public.

If a person is not making a scene or causing a commotion, they have no reason or right to be removed.

The crowd was not making threats; they were not being obscene; they were not inciting others to violence.

While we agree that those who are disruptive can be removed from a public space, Belford threw everyone out. Whether you were one of the people shouting at the board or were being like a church mouse in the corner, you were told to leave so the Board could conduct a public meeting behind closed doors.

People should come to meetings and act in a more civilized manner. Court decisions have made it clear that the ability of a board to conduct business trumps the ability to be disruptive.

We agree with that.

Furthermore, as we always say, “a board cannot hear you in the parking lot,” meaning that if you get thrown out of a meeting, the Board can’t hear what you want to say and the points you are trying to make.

Once again, this is not a case where the crowd was wrong or the Board was wrong. The Board was wrong in allowing comments from a member which would not be allowed to be made by a citizen. The crowd was wrong to react in loud, boisterous manner that disrupted the meeting. Belford and the Board were wrong to penalize the public in general and hold a meeting that could not be seen by the public.

This has to stop.

People need to stop acting like petulant children when things don’t go their way, and Boards members who take an oath to the Federal and State Constitution and the laws of the State of Florida must live up to them.

Right now, no one is acting in a proper manner.

Shouting doesn’t make you right.

Illegally closing public meetings doesn’t make you right either.

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