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Barefoot: School Board resignation described as an ‘honest mistake’

When is a resignation not really a resignation?

That was the question Monday night as the clock crept toward the opening gavel of this week’s School Board meeting, with Brian Barefoot still waiting to get approval from the Governor’s Office to reclaim his seat on the dais.

“From what I’ve heard, there was some discussion in Tallahassee on Friday, and it’s possible we could hear something today,” Barefoot said late Monday afternoon, hoping Gov. Ron DeSantis would allow him to rescind the resignation he unnecessarily submitted last week.

“In the grand scheme of things, this should be routine,” he added. “But I haven’t heard anything yet, so who knows? This much I can tell you: I’m not going to tonight’s meeting, or any other, unless I get the green light from the governor.”

At meeting time, he still hadn’t heard.

Barefoot, the 80-year-old former Indian River Shores mayor, submitted his resignation from the School Board last Wednesday, believing he was required to do so because he had sold his John’s Island home and moved to Oak Harbor on the mainland.

The move, he thought, took him out of District 5, which he was elected to represent in 2020. He was wrong.

The County Commission, as it does every 10 years after the receiving the results of the U.S. Census, redrew the lines of the district he was elected to during its redistricting process in 2021.

As a result, the Oak Harbor community on Indian River Boulevard changed from District 2 and was added to District 5.

That meant Barefoot, whose new residence was now in the district he was elected to in 2020, didn’t need to resign.

“Obviously, I didn’t know that,” Barefoot said. “I thought District 5 was the barrier island, and so did everyone else I talked to when I decided to move. But, ultimately, it’s my fault. It was my mistake. Shame on me.

“But there was nothing contrived about it,” he added. “I made an honest mistake while trying to do the right thing.”

Last Thursday – less than 24 hours after sending his resignation letter to DeSantis via U.S. Mail – Barefoot learned his new residence was still in District 5 and immediately took steps to restore his place on the board.

In addition to sending faxes and emails to the offices of the governor and secretary of state, he followed up with overnight letters that were to arrive in Tallahassee by 10:30 a.m. last Friday morning.

“I’m positive that my letter rescinding my resignation arrived in the Governor’s Office before my letter of resignation,” Barefoot said, “and there have been other situations where the Florida Supreme Court ruled that resignations could be rescinded.

“So there’s a precedent.”

In fact, Barefoot said he’s prepared to “take whatever measures are necessary” to get reinstated if the governor does not allow him to rescind his resignation.

Last February, DeSantis publicly released an enemies list – created with significant input from the hard-right Moms For Liberty – that contained the names of 14 school board incumbents he wants to see defeated in this year’s elections.

Barefoot was among those targeted, allegedly because he didn’t embrace the governor’s anti-woke education agenda.

“I’m sure there are forces working against me up there,” Barefoot said, alluding to the Moms group, which has staunchly opposed his presence on the board.

School Board Chair Teri Barenborg said Monday she visited the Governor’s Office in Tallahassee on Friday and has called twice in a thus-far unsuccessful attempt to resolve the situation.

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