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Sarasota schools town hall meeting turns raucous over masks, race

Feisty Town Hall
Feisty Town Hall(WWSB)
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 10:52 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Let’s face it, town hall meetings are usually a snooze. Not this one.

Not with issues such as masks and race. Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Brennan Asplen got into it with the crowd after he sensed negativity in the commentary. “It’s a town hall, man!” a man shouted back.

“It’s my town hall and I put it together. And I want to hear what you have to say. But I don’t think we have to get into arguments out here,” Asplen responded.

It didn’t work. “Now that students that didn’t believe in BLM (Black Lives Matter). I don’t think they were getting equity over at McIntosh Middle School,” a man said, directing his comments at Dr. Harriet Moore, Director of Innovation and Equity.

“We were not teaching BLM at McIntosh Middle School. And that’s a fact.” Dr. Moore responded pointedly.

“And it’s shameful. We’re being pitted against each other for political reasons or because of the color of our skin,” a woman noted to massive applause.

Then the mask debate. A week-and-a-half ago, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended the emergency order. “Why this school board thinks they’re above the governor of the state of Florida is beyond me. Remove the masks!” another woman shouted.

And so it went. Other issues such as school vouchers and special education came up, with hardly the same verve. What difference will it make? We’ll find out in August when the school board releases its strategic plan. That’s a lot of time to digest what turned out to be a spicy night.

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