The Flagler County School Board will vote on a proclamation that board member Cheryl Massaro drafted to denounce hate group protests at board meetings.
But the edited resolution will be missing two words: hate groups.
Massaro presented her resolution at an agenda workshop on Jan. 4. Board member Colleen Conklin, who had supported such a resolution, did not attend the workshop. On Jan. 5, Conklin posted on Facebook that she had tested positive for COVID-19.
Massaro suggested a proclamation at a Dec. 7 workshop in response to the November board meeting when adult protesters seeking to ban the book, “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” clashed with high school student protesters outside of the Government Services Building.
“I’m very concerned about actions that took place outside our building, caused by members of certain hate groups … especially when it’s targeting our students,” Massaro said at the Dec. 7 workshop.
She read a draft to the board at the Jan. 4 meeting, “denouncing intimidating actions, slurs, name calling or threats of violence toward Flagler County School district students and staff.”
“I don’t want to be subjective. I would denounce poor behavior against our students.”
Her four-sentence draft specifically denounced hate groups. Board member Jill Woolbright asked her to modify the text to denounce the behavior without using the term, hate group.
Woolbright said she had a conversation with a representative from the Sheriff’s Office, who told her that no members of any known hate groups were identified at the November protests. She also referred to a list by the Southern Poverty Law Center identifying statewide hate groups in Florida and hate groups located in nearby counties, but none based in Flagler County.
“I witnessed poor behavior from all groups in our community,” Woolbright said. “Slurs, name calling, name calling from the podium addressing the dais.”
Massaro said video showed protesters wearing clothing that displayed names of two extremist groups, Three Percenters and Proud Boys.
Woolbright said the term, hate group, is subjective.
“I don’t want to be subjective,” Woolbright said. “I would denounce poor behavior against our students.”
School Board member Janet McDonald appeared to be against the resolution, saying the Sheriff’s Office and not the School Board should determine whether behavior goes over the line.
“I think there is antagonistic behavior on lots of parts,” McDonald said. “It’s their free speech. We don’t have to like it or approve of it, but they have the right to their opinions.”
Massaro removed "hate groups" from her draft. The resolution is expected to be on the Jan. 18 board meeting agenda.