Members of the Sarasota County School Board expressed concerns about a recent interview Bridget Ziegler did with Fox News during their Tuesday workshop.
During an appearance on “America Reports,” Bridget Ziegler said she does not want her children or their peers to “learn to hate America” through the “anti-American curriculum” of critical race theory (CRT).
During the interview, Ziegler, who has three young children, said she is the only member of the Sarasota County School Board who has school-age children and stressed the “importance of parent’s involvement in cultivating school policy and curriculum.”
Fox news anchor Trace Gallagher spoke about how Florida State Board of Education voted last Thursday to ban critical race theory from the state’s public school curriculum and asked Ziegler for her thoughts as a parent and a school board member.
Vice Chair Jane Goodwin addressed Ziegler about the interview, which was televised Thursday after the state board’s vote.
“I’ve received calls from concerned parents asking if she (Ziegler) was referring to Sarasota County schools,” Goodwin said during Tuesday’s workshop.
Ziegler responded that she was talking in general about Florida schools.
“But as it pertains to Sarasota County, there are multiple evidence areas where it is embedded in the curriculum, and I spoke with Dr. Asplen about them and they were removed,” Ziegler said.
Sarasota County Schools superintendent Brennan Asplen said he found the interview concerning.
“It seemed there were a couple references to Sarasota County, and that part disappointed me,” he said. “I don’t want our community to be confused. We do not teach this in the district. It’s not in our curriculum. In the rare case a teacher shares political or religious discussions in the classroom, we address it.”
Goodwin mentioned that Ziegler said she was the only qualified school board member in the district.
“Do not throw arrows, please,” Goodwin said. “This board has many years of education experience. This is a great school district and any attempt to disparage this district is wrong.”
Ziegler denied saying that on the news show.
“I pointed out that I am in fact the only member of the board with a child in this district,” Ziegler said. “I am committed to hold myself accountable for what I believe in. We have to say what we mean and mean what we say.”
In other news
Chris Renouf, executive director of elementary schools, introduced Curtis Schwartz, the new principal at Englewood Elementary School, at the school board meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
He started out teaching at Venice Elementary School and currently lives in Englewood.
“My educational journey with Sarasota County Schools has come full circle,” Schwartz said. “I feel honored to lead such a special school in the community in which I live. I’m incredibly excited to get to know and serve alongside the Englewood staff, families and students. I look forward to our work together that will continue the Eagles’ rich culture of community, high standards, and success.”
Renouf also introduced the new principal at North Port High School, Shannon Fusco.
“It’s really an honor being here today,” Fusco said. “Working in education, is all about relationships. North Port High is a very large school. We are a very strong school and a very proud school. In changing roles, I’m looking forward to establishing new relationships and growing current ones.”
The new Venice High School principal was also introduced. Zoltan Kerestely most recently served as the assistant principal of administration at North Port High School.
“It will be a tough task but I feel up for the challenge,” Kerestely said. “I’ve had great mentorship from colleagues over the years. As our students become college and career ready, fostering a community of educators that are innovative and caring is a passion that I will bring with me every day at Venice High. I’ll do my best to keep ‘Venice strong’ in this new role.”
During public comment, a parent said she was thankful that Gov. Ron DeSantis passed a bill on Monday for all Florida schools to begin each day with a moment of silence.
“I’m looking forward to this being implemented in our schools,” she said. “Whether it’s for prayer, reflection or to express thanks, I think it’s important for our kids.”
The next meeting is planned for Tuesday, July 13.