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Woman dragged out of School Board meeting says her rights were violated

Posted at 11:47 PM, Nov 17, 2021

LEE COUNTY — We’re hearing from a woman who was literally dragged out of Tuesday night’s Lee County School Board meeting.

She said she was trying to comment on the selection of the new school board chair, but she was denied that opportunity.

“I have a right to speak," said Tara Jenner as she was being dragged out of the room by Lee County Sheriff's deputies.

The School Board had to call a recess Tuesday evening, and in cell phone video we received from a viewer, you can see Jenner dragged out of her seat while yelling “No I have a right to be here.”

She was then dragged down the hallway by deputies.

“I was dragged on both my butt and on my knees. Fortunately I had jeans on, so I don’t have any physical abrasions on my knees, but my knees are extremely tender and sore today," said Jenner.

Jenner said she was trying to offer public comment before the Board voted on who would become the next School Board Chair, something she felt she had a right to do.

“This is an action, it warrants public comment," said Jenner.

So Jenner stood up to say her comments, but was quickly shut down.

“If there’s going to be a vote, the public should have an opportunity to speak. This is an action item," said Jenner during the meeting.

“Not during a pre-reorg I’m sorry. Pursuant to the statute, that does not happen. You do not have an opportunity to speak during a pre-reorg I’m sorry," said Board Attorney Kathy Dupuy-Bruno Esq. in response.

“I was shut down by the Board attorney, who did not give me a statute citation, but said I wasn’t granted that right," said Jenner.

Jenner’s concerns come as the Board reviews policy 1.11 that makes the rules for School Board meetings. We spoke with Board Member Melisa Giovannelli, who said she would support changes adding more opportunities for comments during meetings.

"There's conversations right now, ongoing conversations, that it could possibly be changed. There's opportunity regarding the agenda early and then opportunity for anything that's not regarding the agenda later," said Giovannelli.

Jenner said she hopes the policy is changed so that she doesn’t have to be forcibly removed ever again.

“What are they so afraid of if we actually take a moment and speak before they vote on who’s going to be the chairperson?” said Jenner.

Giovannelli said the board is in the process of discussing changes to policy 1.11, but she said it likely won’t be voted on until next year.