Pinellas School Board candidate Ken Peluso wants creationism taught in public schools.
"I think creationism and evolution should be taught side by side and I don't care what classroom," Peluso said Thursday in response to a question at a School Board candidate forum held by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg.
Candidates were asked whether they favored teaching creationism. If they did, would they allow it to be taught in a science class?
Peluso was the only candidate to say yes. His two opponents for the District 4 seat, Beverley Billiris, former mayor of Tarpon Springs, and John Nygren, a retired math teacher, said no. So did candidates in the other four School Board races.
Kent Curtis, who is running against board member Peggy O'Shea in District 3, said creationism "is not science." O'Shea, who has breast cancer, skipped the forum on the advice of her doctor.
Florida's science standards, which were adopted in 2008, call evolution the "fundamental concept underlying all of biology" and say it is "supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence." Creationism is not in the state standards, despite an effort to include it years ago.
Peluso said students should "know the facts" and decide for themselves.
A retired chiropractor and former chairman of the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas, Peluso has raised the most money in the District 4 race. He also has endorsements from the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, Pinellas Educational Support Professionals Association and the Pinellas Realtor Organization.
District 4 includes most of northern Pinellas County, including Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor and parts of Clearwater. Board member Robin Wikle holds the seat now, but announced in February that she would resign midterm. Wikle endorsed Billiris.
The election for the nonpartisan seat is Aug. 26. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held in November.
Contact Cara Fitzpatrick at [email protected] Follow @fitz_ly.