As chairman of Moms for Liberty - Indian River, I wanted to clear the air on some things stated during the public comment portion of the November 22 School Board business meeting.
First, during citizen input, I didn’t “forget” anything in my three minute speech. In his comments, Michael Marsh was wrong about trying to correct my congratulatory acknowledgments of newly elected school board members. I said everything I wanted to say. I did not congratulate Mrs. Barenborg because it has always been my opinion she wasn’t the best candidate for the seat. She knew my position because I told her verbally before the election. By member vote, Moms for Liberty endorsed her opponent.
Why didn’t I consider her victory? It’s more than just policy issues. She broke the law with her vote to have mandatory masking of children. On September 14, 2021, she voted for a COVID process with no parental opt-out if the administration determined a “CODE RED.” This vote was consistent with her not allowing optional masking in October 2020. On February 28, 2022, she voted to put pornographic, sexually explicit content and Critical Race Theory books back in school libraries and ultimately in the hands of children.
Afterwards, I met with her in good faith about the votes on masks and books. Our off the record conversation ended up in a midnight email to the Republican Executive Committee members before they considered endorsing a candidacy. In my view, she not only lied, it was done to slander our efforts in the school district over the past few years for political gain. Furthermore, saying her opponent wouldn’t be best for the seat because “he didn’t have children,” because his wife was unable to have them, is one of the most hurtful things I’ve ever heard in my life from a candidate for elective office.
And finally, she aligns herself with Michael Marsh who was convicted of felonies and misdemeanors in three counties. The documentation is extensive with over 30 arrests. Mr. Marsh ran unopposed for the county PTA position. There are questions about the local PTA not clearly announcing their election process to their members. The state PTA opposed the parental rights legislation passed in 2021, and, the parental rights in education law. In his public comment, he touted himself as the alternate for the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) board, a position that doesn’t technically exist, but the school board invented without a formal vote in 2020. He openly commented he was seeking the top MPO position, but thankfully, was voted down on Tuesday after Barenborg’s full endorsement. These are the reasons that I did not recognize Mrs. Barenborg. Her win wasn’t mentioned publicly because the voice of my comments were positive.
Furthermore, the political pandering to some of the 501c3 organizations in the school district is disgusting. There are MANY organizations that align with SDIRC that do great work feeding the homeless, and/or have workforce opportunities for those in need. They don’t get to do political grandstanding at the podium like Mr. Marsh which as chairman, Barenborg consistently allowed. If you are doing charity work for praise, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. If you get a donation of $5.00 or a can of soup, and, you boast about it on social media or at a school board meeting, you aren’t doing it for the right reasons. It is embarrassing for the school district to be using business meeting time to collect checks for one charity over another. During the October 2022 meeting, board members Teri Barenborg, Peggy Jones and Mara Schiff made very public donations from dais to Michael Marsh’s Team Success non-profit. There are many organizations and people in this community who do awesome and challenging work for people and families that could take up an entire business meeting to compliment, but it’s not the Board's business.
Finally, Mrs. Barenborg commented, “Michael Marsh turned around and did some amazing things for the community” (1:03:17 in video). In my view, that is not true. He got off probation January 2021, and since, has been a horrible human being toward many parents, community and school board members. He has filed two false police reports at school board meetings in the past year, including at the Tuesday function in the entryway to the boardroom. In September 2021, he was yelling through a bullhorn foul language and epithets with children present, accusing peaceful protesters openly of racism without evidence at a demonstration. Also, he filed a police report that falsely accused a 75 year old Cuban grandmother of assaulting him with a piece of paper. Members of Moms for Liberty submitted evidence to the on-duty deputies at the scene in case anyone needs documentation. It’s absolutely disgusting who some board members align themselves with ONLY for political purposes. Currently, Marsh wouldn’t pass a background check and shouldn’t be allowed in any schools except as a parent where his children attend. With his history of domestic violence, perjury, extortion, trespassing and other felonious activity, I am glad he is not representing the school district anymore.
His self-aggrandizing “Mike For Liberty” public and private Facebook pages, “Jacqueline “Jackie” Rosario Must Go” page, “We the People of Indian River County” page and others are not representative of the school district and the majority of the community. There are plenty of law abiding citizens that have charities making wonderful and selfless contributions that the district could consider, rather than have our school system align with a troubled ex-con.
It is time for the school district to do the right thing for all children and leave this crass form of politics behind.
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