Palm Coast’s Merrill Shapiro, a member of the national board of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, presented legal arguments at a talk Thursday against the Flagler County School Board’s potential return to starting meetings with invocations.
A divided Flagler County School Board has yet to decide whether and how to conduct invocations at the start of its meetings following Chairman Janet McDonald’s out-of-order introduction of a pastor and her invocation at the August meeting.
Opposition to the Flagler Health Department’s proposal to offer the HPV vaccine in schools is driven by three board members echoing the rhetoric of vaccine denialism though various irrational pretexts.
School Board Chair Janet McDonald’s decision to start Tuesday’s meeting with a prayer by a pastor had not been approved by the board nor placed on the agenda, a violation of board procedures and a break with a nearly 50-year precedent.
Janet McDonald, who chairs the Flagler County School Board through November, says she favors a broad search for the next superintendent but does not detect much interest from internal candidates to take on the job.
The HPV vaccine immunizes against the sexually transmitted disease and prevents nine cancers, and local immunization is very low, but two Flagler school board members are not eager to see it offered to 13 to 17 year olds.
Superintendent Jim Tager is at the end of the second year of a three-year contract, and is required to stop working in July 2020 for at least six months, being in the state’s drop program. One board member said he could sit out six months and return.
School Board member Janet McDonald and her husband Dennis McDonald agreed to settle a three-year-old case with the Florida Commission on Ethics, conceding that they had made minor and unintended violations on their financial disclosure forms.
A state ethics investigation found that both Dennis and Janet McDonald inaccurately reported assets on disclosure forms ahead of election runs. The late Frank Meeker, a county commissioner, filed the ethics complaints shortly before his death in 2016.
Complete video interviews of Flagler County School Board board candidates by the Flagler Exceptional Student Education Support Group.