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Sarasota school board chairperson calls on Bridget Ziegler to resign

Karen Rose said she will present a resolution asking Ziegler to step down on Tuesday.
 
Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler faces mounting pressure to resign her post.
Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler faces mounting pressure to resign her post. [ Courtesy Bridget Ziegler Facebook page ]
Published Dec. 7, 2023|Updated Dec. 7, 2023

Pressure is mounting for Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler to resign her position amid a growing sex scandal that also involves her husband, Florida Republican Party chairperson Christian Ziegler.

Sarasota school board chairperson Karen Rose, a past ally of Ziegler and her conservative agenda, said late Wednesday that she was calling on Ziegler to step down “for the good of our students, teachers, staff and community.”

Rose said via text message that she planned to present a resolution to the board on Tuesday, seeking support from her colleagues in asking Ziegler to resign. Board member Tom Edwards, the sole moderate-liberal on the board, already has made a similar call.

At issue is Ziegler’s reported conduct in a three-way sexual encounter. Her husband faces accusations of sexual assault from the other woman in the relationship. Neither of the Zieglers has been charged with any crime as the Sarasota police investigate.

But Ziegler has been mocked as hypocritical for participating in an encounter with another woman while taking public stances on LGBTQ+ issues. In a recent Facebook post, she boasted that her successes during the past year as board chairperson included terminating gender-diverse guidelines and eliminating the district’s equity policy.

More than 1,000 people commented on that post, with most criticizing her and making sarcastic remarks.

Rose suggested the attention being paid to Ziegler is a distraction the district does not need. She noted that the community has been “rocked” by the “disturbing revelations” surrounding the Zieglers, saying she was “shocked and deeply saddened by the conduct,” as well as the “salacious news coverage.”

“I personally care about Bridget and her family and deeply regret the necessity for this course of action, but given the intense media scrutiny locally and nationally, her continued presence on the board would cause irreparably harmful distractions to our critical mission,” Rose wrote.

Ziegler did not immediately respond to a request for comment via social media. Her cellphone message stated that she is not accepting calls.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that she has left her post as a trainer at the Leadership Institute, a nonprofit that trains conservative school board candidates on how to run campaigns. Her husband, meanwhile, has rebuffed calls for him to step aside from his Republican leadership role.

The party has called a special session to discuss his future.

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Spotlight on education

The public is invited to a community conversation about the future of Florida public schools on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the Tampa Theatre, hosted by the Tampa Bay Times. In the second installment of the Spotlight Tampa Bay series, Times journalists will moderate a discussion by experts, followed by a panel featuring students. Tickets are $20; $10 for students. Proceeds benefit the Times’ Journalism Fund. To purchase tickets, click here.