SARASOTA — The Sarasota County School Board is reviewing the educational website BrainPop, used at the elementary level, after one board member referred to “concerning content” on the platform.
On the school district’s homepage, students select their topic of interest, which will direct them to in-depth units for studying. The concern arose over content in the social studies section, which includes sections on Pride and the Black Lives Matter Movement, under the “news” tab.
One Sarasota parent, Thomas Bakondy, said, “This of course is without any parental oversight and quite honestly is sickening.”
“It makes parents now wonder if they can trust Sarasota County Schools with their children,” he added.
Board member Bridget Ziegler said she became aware of the content of the platform late Sunday evening, and made superintendent Brennan Asplen aware.
Ziegler said she anticipates the board will discuss BrainPop at Tuesday’s board meeting.
“A lot of content on there, I’m curious about what the vetting process is,” Ziegler said of BrainPop. “When you think of all the curriculum for our students, whether its supplemental or not, we need to have rigorous vetting process.”
Marie Hambrick has three children in Sarasota County Schools and says she has no problem with this content being available and assigned to students.
“It’s something that can help open conversations between peers and foster understanding,” she said. “Structural racism is real and should not be swept under the rug and ignored.”
Ziegler added that even supplemental instruction resources need to be cross-referenced.
“This is a big example of how important that is,” she said.
She said if the district plans to use external sources, they need to be vetted, appropriate and relevant.
Ziegler wants to find out how long the district has contracted with BrainPop, what are the terms of the agreement, and who is responsible for the content.
The school board meeting will take place at 3 p.m. today, and can be attended in person at 1980 Landings Blvd., in Sarasota or viewed on the district’s YouTube channel youtube.com/user/TheEdChannel20.