School districts increase security, change policy as meetings get rowdy
LAKE MARY, Fla. - School board meetings across Central Florida are getting rowdy as passions flare over masks in the classroom.
Now, some school boards in several districts are dissecting their policies for the public comment portion of their meetings in an effort to manage how out of control the meetings have become.
A man was taken out of the Brevard School Board meeting Tuesday night in handcuffs, while a meeting in Flagler County was put on pause because of disruptions. In the last few weeks, school board meetings in Lake and Orange counties have all gotten out of control.
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"It’s crazy. I can’t explain it. I don’t understand it honestly, I don’t," said parent Aerricka Clemons.
"I get it that people are passionate but it has gotten kind of wild," said parent Patrick Moore.
It’s gotten so wild that districts are now hiring extra security and making policy changes for the public comment portion of the meetings.
Orange County’s board met Tuesday to rework the policy to say that in the event of any safety concerns, the board chair can end the public input period early.
"I think it’s not fair for our constituents to come here and not feel safety," one board member said at the meeting.
WATCH: Fireworks at Flagler County School Board meeting
Brevard and Seminole counties are looking to make similar changes.
"We welcome all opinions but at the same time there is a line that cannot be crossed into being disrespectful or not following procedure," said Seminole County Public Schools spokesperson Michael Lawrence.
Lake County is shelling out between $30 and $50 an hour for extra officers who are now coming to meetings. Brevard and Seminole also have additional security on hand these days.
"At the end of the day whether it’s the school district flipping the bill or the sheriff’s office flipping the bill, it’s taxpayer money. These are officers that could be doing other things," said Lawrence.
As far as the public comment policy changes, they are still in the early stages. The school boards are still editing and workshopping them before going to a vote down the road.
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