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Florida school board member who supports masks reveals threats her family received

"I don't reject people coming here and speaking their voice," Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins said during a meeting. "... I reject them following my car around."

For months, as a debate over masks in Florida classrooms raged, Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins said she was reluctant to speak about threats she and her family allegedly received.

On Tuesday, as the board considered a resolution to make meetings safer, she said she felt her hand was forced.

"I've tried not to talk about this stuff publicly," she said in a clip of her remarks posted online.

Jenkins, a supporter of masks in schools, proceeded to detail a series of alleged incidents.

"I don't reject people coming here and speaking their voice," Jenkins, a supporter of masks in schools, said. "... I reject them following my car around. I reject them saying that they're coming for me, that I need to beg for mercy.

"I reject that when they are using their First Amendment rights on public property, they're also going behind my home and brandishing their weapons to my neighbors."

While local news reports have detailed protests that have been directed at Jenkins over her support of the LGBTQ community and masks in schools, it wasn't clear if she reported any of the alleged incidents to authorities. NBC News' efforts to reach her Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Across the country, school leaders, government officials and parents have clashed over masks. Angry protests erupted in Franklin, Tennessee, in August after a school district reinstated a mask mandate for elementary school students, with some people yelling at and heckling those wearing face coverings in the parking lot at a meeting about the measure.

In Florida, state education officials recently approved plans to dock salaries and withhold funding from eight local school districts, including Brevard, that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates in classrooms. The ruling followed legal and public debate over the policy and an escalating feud between the DeSantis administration and the White House, which has pledged to cover such sanctions with federal dollars.

Jenkins said she did not want to talk about the "credible threats of violence" against her and her family. She said she only brought them up because she and her colleagues were voting on a resolution intended to dismiss a call from the National School Boards Association to keep school board members safe.

"It became something on our agenda that I couldn't express to you why I was against it any longer," she said.

The association last month requested "federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation."

"Local school board members want to hear from their communities on important issues and that must be at the forefront of good school board governance and promotion of free speech," it said in a letter. "However, there also must be safeguards in place to protect public schools and dedicated education leaders as they do their jobs."

In response to the letter, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI to work with local officials to address the "disturbing spike" in “harassment, intimidation and threats of violence” to school board members.

The Florida School Boards Association wasn't happy about this request from the Biden administration, and is now refusing to pay its membership dues.

The resolution voted Tuesday in Brevard stated that instead, "the Board of directors of the Florida School Boards Association calls upon all school districts to collaborate with their respective local law enforcement agencies to continue to provide a safe environment for all stakeholders to exchange views."

The resolution passed, but not before Jenkins decried its apparent purpose.

"I agree with pretty much everything that’s in here, it’s just the reason that this was put out is what I'm uncomfortable with because it was drafted in response to a letter that was intended to keep me and my family safe and potentially you and your family safe," she said to the other school board members, referencing the letter from the association.

"If we were going to support each other and we were going to make a change in our community ... then we should come up with something ourselves that meets the situation that we face here in Brevard, but doesn't interject us between two organizations fighting each other," she said.

Video of Jenkins' comments about her alleged experiences over the last six months was shared on Twitter, with some offering their support for the school board member.

Jenkins retweeted the clip.

"It has been challenging for my family and I appreciate this overwhelming support," she said in the post.


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