Moms for Liberty is connected to the firing of yet another superintendent

'I want the Sarasota County School District to heal; I desire for our community to be at peace,' outgoing superintendent says

This week’s firing of yet another superintendent—Brennan Asplen of Sarasota County Schools—further shows the wide impact of Moms for Liberty.

A co-founder of the conservative activist group, Bridget Ziegler, is now the chair of Sarasota County’s school board, which was expected to vote late Tuesday on terminating Asplen’s contract just over two years after he took the reins of the southwest Florida district early in the COVID pandemic. It was Asplen’s first stint as a superintendent after working as an administrator and educator elsewhere in Florida.

Asplen and his wife were “highly disappointed and plummeted into emotional turmoil” last week when the school board formally began the termination process, he said in a message to the community that appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and other local media outlets. He also said that he has accepted the fact that he will be terminated and has been humbled by the outpouring of support he has received over the last week.

“I seek not to be a distraction from the passionately steadfast commitment of our SCS teachers, administrators, employees and the greater parent/student community,” Asplen said in his statement. “I want the Sarasota County School District to heal; I desire for our community to be at peace.”

Conservatives now dominate the Sarasota County school board 4-to-1 after this fall’s elections. None of those members has given a clear reason for ousting Asplen, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reportedZiegler, who was endorsed for reelection by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and is no longer an official member of Moms for Liberty, was the only member to say that Asplen needed improvement on a performance review in which he was deemed effective by her school board colleagues, WUSF reported.

At least one school board member—and potentially more—has concerns about Asplen’s performance, Ziegler told WSUF. “If you move back to the election, the public overwhelmingly stated that they wanted to see a change in direction on the board,” Ziegler said in the interview. “There is only one employee of the board and that certainly is the superintendent. I, as one board member, have been very transparent about my position on the superintendent.”

Moms for Liberty was formed by Ziegler and two former school board members to oppose mask mandates and critical race theory. Many see the group’s push against CRT as an effort to restrict how schools teach about race, racism and topics such as slavery and social justice.

Earlier this month, a slate of South Carolina school board members endorsed by Moms for Liberty abruptly fired former Berkeley County School District superintendent Deon Jackson in the middle of their first school board meeting. None of the members gave a clear explanation for Jackson’s sudden termination.

“This is a political witch hunt,” a dissenting Berkeley County school member said. “This is a sham, this a political hit job. I am absolutely embarrassed to be on this board.”

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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