Orange County Public Schools puts new protocols in place for board meeting safety

School board meetings have gotten rowdy across Central Florida. Now, Orange County has some new rules for board meetings that start on Tuesday. 

In recent weeks, parents have been protesting in hallways and board members have been leaving mid-meeting as parents refuse to wear masks. 

"I cannot stand the protests. I still don’t understand what they are protesting for," said one parent. 

Now, the school board has come up with a solution. 

"I think it’s not fair for our constituents to come here and not feel safe," said one board member at a workshop last week. 

Now, there are new protocols for board meetings. Masks are required or people will be asked to leave. 

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The protocols also include separate lines for public speakers versus non-speakers, entrance through Amelia Street only so everyone goes through metal detectors, no blocking the view for other parents with signs and no congregating in the lobby.

"They shouldn't have the option where they can show up with the signs, where they can protest. Let’s just keep it civil. Let’s keep it small," said parent Tania, whose daughter is in high school.

It’s gotten to a point where some parents are avoiding these meetings. 

"Not interested in being a part of that."

"Let’s act civil and come to a solution." 

Some worry the meetings in Orange County could erupt like some in Brevard and other counties. But, some parents aren’t so sure the new rules will work. 

"Sure, maybe the meetings will be less divided, but that doesn’t change the division between anybody else outside the meetings," said parent Sam Lynn.

Disrupting or interfering with a school board meeting is a misdemeanor under Florida law, which means those who don’t follow the new protocols could be escorted out by Orlando police and/or charged with trespassing if they refuse to leave. 

"I think everything right now that the school board’s getting involved with is overstepping."

The new protocols go into effect at the next board meeting on Tuesday at 4:45 p.m.

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