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Huge turnout expected as Sarasota School Board votes on asking Bridget Ziegler to resign

Sarasota School Board chair speaks from the dias at a school board workshop in March.
Matt Rourke
The Sarasota County School Board is expected to take up a vote Tuesday on asking embattled board member Bridget Ziegler, seen here at a March 2023 meeting, to step down.

A workshop by the board is scheduled for earlier in the day, beginning at 1 p.m. The meeting itself starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

UPDATE: The Sarasota school board on Tuesday voted 4-1 to ask member Bridget Ziegler to resign. Ziegler, an original co-founder of Moms for Liberty, appeared defiant at the dais, asking the school board lawyer if indeed the resolution had “no teeth,” and staying largely silent after casting her “no“ vote. [Read more]


The Sarasota School Board on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that urges board member Bridget Ziegler to resign, saying that her continued presence poses an “irreparably harmful distraction,” as her husband is the subject of a police investigation for sexual assault.

As a co-founder of the far-right group Moms for Liberty whose re-election to the school board last year was boosted by extremist groups like the Proud Boys, Bridget Ziegler garnered global media attention this month, after she acknowledged a past consensual sexual relationship involving her, her husband and another woman.

That woman has alleged Christian Ziegler raped her in early October, after a proposed liaison with him and Bridget fell through.

RELATED: Calls mount for Bridget Ziegler to resign from Sarasota School Board amid a sex scandal

Police are still investigating. No charges have been filed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state lawmakers have urged Christian Ziegler to step aside as chair of the Florida Republican Party, but Ziegler has so far refused.

Calls mount for Ziegler's resignation

Two school board members, including Tom Edwards, the only Democrat on the five-member board, and chairwoman Karen Rose, have called for Bridget Ziegler to step down from her seat. So have Black community leaders and public school advocacy groups.

“Bridget Ziegler must step down now,” said a joint statement by the Sarasota NAACP and the Manasota Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), pointing out that the issue is not revelations about Bridget Ziegler’s sexual escapades, but “the level of hypocrisy on display.”

“Her presence is a distraction, and she can't be effective. And that hurts the work of the Board,” said David Wilkins, Manasota ASALH branch president.

“Our kids are of most importance, and anything that distracts from serving them, and providing the very best education for all of our children, I think, is disqualifying,” he added.

Earlier this year, Ziegler led the way toward a 3-2 school board vote requiring parental permission for middle schoolers to check out a book on anti-racism by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

“What one does in the privacy of one's own home is one's own business, and we're not here to tell people what they can and can't do. That's irrelevant. The issue is the hypocrisy of it. This woman has led the war against the LGBTQ population, particularly young people, these young people are vulnerable.”
Lisa Schurr, Support Our Schools

She was also photographed in a group with members of the extremist Proud Boys at an election victory party.

Ziegler later attempted to distance herself from the group, calling them “yahoos.”

But a local member of the Proud Boys, James Hoel, said they were “greatly involved” in getting her elected.

The lead item for the agenda at Tuesday’s 6 p.m. meeting is a resolution asking Ziegler to voluntarily resign.

What to expect

Lisa Schurr, who heads the advocacy group Support Our Schools, said she anticipates a “huge turnout,” and said her group will hold a press conference at the school board headquarters at 4:30 p.m.

“What one does in the privacy of one's own home is one's own business, and we're not here to tell people what they can and can't do. That's irrelevant. The issue is the hypocrisy of it. This woman has led the war against the LGBTQ population, particularly young people, these young people are vulnerable,” Schurr said.

The five-member school board cannot force Ziegler out. Only the governor could remove her by executive order for “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony,” the resolution said.

Ziegler has not responded to requests for comment. Nor have her colleagues Robyn Marinelli and Tim Enos, who ran on the same ticket for school board last year and won, flipping the board from three Democrats and two Republicans to a 4-1 conservative majority.

If Enos and Marinelli vote against the resolution, along with Ziegler, it would fail.

The public comment period of the meeting is scheduled for after the vote on calling for Ziegler’s resignation.

Schurr said that is an unusual order of events. Typically, public comment is allowed to be held before a vote on an issue is taken.

“Perhaps Mrs. Rose thinks that that will forestall people speaking out against Mrs. Ziegler's hypocrisy, and I don't see that happening at this point,” said Schurr.

Rose did not respond to a request for comment on the order of the agenda.

Updated: December 12, 2023 at 7:32 PM EST
This story has been updated with the Sarasota School Board voting to ask Bridget Ziegler to resign.
I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.
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