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Superintendent apologizes after pastor was forced out of school board meeting for standing

Posted at 7:53 PM, Nov 20, 2019

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — The Manatee County superintendent has apologized after a pastor was forced to leave for quietly standing in the back of the room.

Arthur Huggins was forced to leave a public Manatee County School Board meeting for quietly standing in the back of the room last week.

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"I really don’t know if they understand the impact of what that did not only for me, but for the community as well," said Huggins.

Pastor Huggins is known for being respectful and reserved.

He says he and other pastors in the community have been working hard to show people, who are frustrated with the school district, that their voices are better heard when being respectful. He says this incident was a monumental setback.

"They’re now looking at me saying 'OK, you said do it that way, and now look what happened you,'" said Huggins.

At Tuesday night’s Manatee County School Board meeting, Superintendent Cynthia Saunders addressed the topic right away.

"I also want to apologize to the board for the incident during our last board meeting," said Sauders. "We must combine safety with common sense and security with compassion. The public is welcome inside this chamber and we will do better to make sure everyone is safe and everyone feels they are welcome."

"I didn't hear an apology directed toward me," said Huggins.

Huggins says it was hopeful to hear school board member Charlie Kennedy apologize to him personally at Tuesday night's meeting.

"He wasn’t doing anything wrong, he was just standing in the back quietly," said Kennedy.

Kennedy says the board never passed a policy about standing. He says the new safety protocols were never voted on by the school board.

"It was not clear by which rule he was asked to leave," said Kennedy.

Kennedy motioned to have the safety protocols addressed at Tuesday night's meeting, but it was denied. He hopes they will be addressed at the next meeting on Dec. 10, and the board will have a chance to vote on the rules that apply to their meetings.

Meanwhile, Huggins is holding onto hope as well.

"Stay hopeful. Good can come out of a bad situation," said Huggins.