School board members believe the threats are part of the organized effort

School board members believe the threats are part of the organized effort

Tampa, Florida – School board members Jennifer Jenkins and Shirley Brown have revealed the extent of threats they have received since last year.

“Parents will kick my door and pull me by my hair,” Brown said. Brown, a Democrat who serves on the board of directors in Sarasota, explained.

Brown also served as a state representative, but said the recent attacks on school mask mandates were worse than any political attacks she had ever received in the legislature. At one point, protesters crowded outside her home located in a gated community.

For Jennifer Jenkins, threats have been going on since last year, starting with LGBTQ, then critical race theory and now hiding mandates.

“They were going to come to me like a freight train, and I would have to beg for mercy,” Jenkins, a Democrat from the Brevard County School Board, explained about the threats she received recently. “Postcards were sent to my house, vile phone calls, voice mails, and emails, and it started escalating in April when the first protest came into my house.”

Jenkins made national headlines last week after revealing during a school board meeting how her attacks included people protesting outside her home with guns, and even complaints to the state’s child care agency alleging abuse of her daughter.

“I have to take a DCF female investigator out to play so they can go under her clothes and check for burn marks. This is a real threat,” she told her teammates.

Reporter Katie Lagron asked Jenkins if the DCF complaint was a turning point for her.

“If I’m being honest, no,” she said, “I was attacked so often and so harshly that I became less sensitive to the things that were happening to me.”

Jennifer Jenkins, a Brevard County School Board member, talks about harassment

Scripps Electronic Warfare

Jennifer Jenkins was elected to the Brevard County School Board in November 2020.

It’s a problem happening all over the country.

Once a venue for peaceful rants and anti-climate debates, school board meetings have become open forums for hostile crowds, political revolts, shouting matches and arrests.

Despite calls by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) for federals to investigate threats against school officials, the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA) is one of many that are resisting, describing any federal action as ” transcend.”

“Illegal acts and violence against any public servant must not be tolerated,” said Andrea Messina, executive director of the Florida Society.

However, even after hearing how well school board members across the state have dealt with the threats, Messina believes any action should come from local law enforcement first.

“We don’t have the expertise to define this level, but we know that school boards are local governments, we believe in local control and we have relationships with our local law enforcement,” Messina said.

Andrea Messina, Executive Director of the Florida School Board Association

Scripps Electronic Warfare

Andrea Messina has been the Executive Director of the Florida School Board Association since 2015.

For Jenkins and Brown, local law enforcement is involved in the threats they receive. But they both also believe that the who and the reason behind their harassment runs deeper than zealous parents.

Jenkins, who also revealed she thought she was being followed by a private investigator, said Jenkins.

Messina, with the FSBA, heard the gurgling of the outside influence.

“I have questions and I’m telling people is this an organized effort by an outside group, not parents. So there are questions that are being asked,” she said.

But Messina stopped supporting any federal investigation in a more organized effort.

“I can’t speak for the board of directors,” she said.

As school mask mandates rise across the state, the scale of threats these board members receive appears to be dwindling. The extra police now attend every school board meeting, and Brown said she is now being taken to her car by the police.

Neither Jenkins nor Brown have plans to leave the boardroom seats, though there is little confidence that the tensions simmering in and out of schoolrooms will end any time soon.

“They jump from topic to topic to create chaos and controversy,” Jenkins said.

“I think there’s outrage and there’s somebody knocking at a hornet’s nest and making people angry, and I think that’s for political purposes,” Brown said.

The National School Board Association is still reviewing the concerns raised by Florida and several other states.

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