MIAMI, Fla. – On the website for Floridians First, US there is a flyer advertising a mask mandate protest outside M-DCPS administration building. The group’s website states under “What we want to accomplish?” this: “Raise an army of MAGA-Minded individuals who are willing to participate in the local GOP!”
It also includes a “Three Steps Plan of MAGA Recovery” and under step 1 states: “Hold popular events and rallies to recruit new members.”
My question for attorney Gabriel Jose Carrera related to trying to understand what is the intersection between the website’s stated political goals and a school district’s consideration of a nonpartisan public health policy amid pandemic. He tells me the group organized the protest on behalf of concerned parents.
His full statement: “Floridians First was asked by 50+ Republican mothers to assist them in pulling a permit for them to legally have their voices heard in a rally in front of the schoolboard. We agreed with their beliefs that masks are bad for the children and that keeping the masks on the children is to politically placate the Teacher’s unions for their votes. Many of the mothers and the fathers spoke at the popular event. Their comments are on the public record for all to see.” -Gabriel Jose Carrera, Esq.
@MdcpsParents mdcpsparents.org, which identifies itself as “a parent-driven advocacy group created for parents with students in any grade, in any school, within the Miami-Dade County Public School District” sent out a tweet on Thursday:
“Our children’s safety should be non-partisan. Science MUST continue to inform school policies and protocols regarding minimizing risk to our students, teachers and staff.”
Our children’s safety should be non-partisan. Science MUST continue to inform school policies and protocols regarding minimizing risk to our students, teachers and staff.— MDCPS Parents (@MdcpsParents) May 20, 2021
We asked the Miami-Dade County Public Schools its policy on Board meetings.
“This is our policy on Board meetings and decorum. There is nothing that prevents speakers from expressing their views.”
Decorum: The following provisions are designed to promote the orderly and efficient conduct of public meetings and not to regulate speaker content beyond the limits allowed by law.
1. Citizen’s remarks should be directed to the presiding officer or the Board as a whole and not to individual Board members. Speakers may not address Board members by name and personal attacks against individual Board members, the Board as a whole, the Superintendent, or District staff are prohibited.
2. Speakers commenting on agenda items shall confine their comments solely to the agenda item being discussed. During the public hearing, speakers must limit their remarks to matters related to the business of the District. Unless it is an agenda item, speakers are prohibited from discussing their own pending court cases and filed claims or complaints against the District or District personnel. Similarly, employees are prohibited from discussing any disciplinary matter that affects them individually unless it is an agenda item.
3. Speakers may not use any form of profanity or loud abusive comments.
4. Any action or noise that causes or creates an imminent threat of a disturbance or disruption, including but not limited to, clapping, applauding, heckling, shouting comments from the audience, or verbal outbursts in support or opposition to a speaker or his/her remarks is prohibited. No signs or placards shall be allowed in the Board meeting. Persons exiting the Board meeting shall do so quietly.
5. The Chair may notify and warn speakers that their comments have gone beyond the subject matter for which they had signed up to address, address matters that are not related to the business of the School District, constitute personal attacks on individuals or otherwise violate this policy.
6. The Chair may turn off the microphone or recess the meeting if a speaker persists in addressing irrelevant topics or engaging in personal attacks. The Chair has the authority after one warning to order the removal of the speaker from the meetings. Following a warning, any person making impertinent or slanderous remarks or engages in boisterous behavior which the Chair or the Board determines constitutes an actual or an imminent threat of a disturbance or disruption shall be barred from further appearance before the Board for the balance of the meeting.
7. Personal cellular telephone conversations while in the room when the Board meeting is being conducted is not permitted. Such conversations are permitted only during meeting breaks or recess. Ringers must be set to silent mode to avoid disruption of proceedings. Individuals, including those on the dais, must exit the chambers to answer incoming cell phone calls.