- The Washington Times
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Florida school board candidate was carried out of a public meeting by police Tuesday night after he was accused of using inappropriate language while discussing the district’s transgender bathroom policy.

Brevard County deputies said Dean Paterakis used vulgarities while speaking at the podium and then refused the board’s demands to be quiet, a local Fox News affiliate reported.

According to a video of the exchange published by Florida Today, the “inappropriate” language appears to be the word “penis.”

“That’s what happened…we have a teacher who put his phone up on the big screen and showed, what the students say, was his erect penis,” Mr. Paterakis said in the video.

“That’s enough, Dean,” Brevard School Board chairman Andy Ziegler interjected. “It’s not appropriate.”

Audience members voiced outrage at the attempt to silence Mr. Paterakis. The school board candidate demanded the board give him his “three minutes of free speech.”

Sheriff’s deputies arrived and asked Mr. Paterakis to leave, but he dropped to the ground and refused. 

Paterakis then refused several lawful orders to leave the premises by uniformed deputies,” sheriff’s spokesman Cpl. Dave Jacobs wrote in a statement released to the media, Florida Today reported. “In further effort to intentionally refuse the orders, Paterakis protested by dropping to the ground and continued verbally disrupting the function of the School Board meeting.”

Video showed multiple members of the audience shouting, “Let him speak,” and at one point, the crowd began chanting the phrase.

Mr. Paterakis was eventually picked up and carried out of the room. He was taken to the Brevard County Jail and released on $750 bond. He’s charged with two misdemeanors, disrupting a school function and resisting an officer without violence.

School board members were voting on whether to schedule a public hearing about a proposed non-discrimination policy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, Florida Today reported. The board voted 3-2 in favor of scheduling the hearing.

Later in the meeting, Mr. Ziegler told residents that the school board would not allow “slanderous, abusive or profane speech” and threatened to kick everyone out of the room after people objected, The Blaze reported.

“We can clear the room right now,” Mr. Ziegler said. “You all want to continue? We can continue our business meeting. It’s public, you don’t have to be in attendance.”

School board member Amy Kneessy later told The Blaze that Mr. Paterakis violated meeting rules by “talking about a teacher,” which is a “personnel matter and not allowed at Board meetings due to possible slander.”

Ms. Kneessy said Mr. Paterakis has a long history of public disruptions of crowds.

Mr. Paterakis is running for the District 4 seat on the school board.

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