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Michelle Obama's visit to Barbara Goleman Senior High School in Miami Lakes is being criticized by Miami-Dade School Board members Renier Diaz de la Portilla and Carlos Curbelo.
As is customary with presidential-level campaign events, protesters are never out of the question.
But before Michelle Obama even steps foot in the door of Barbara Goleman Senior High School in Miami Lakes Tuesday morning, some Miami-Dade County Public Schools board members are coming out in protest.
“I think it’s outrageous. I believe that our public schools are places for learning, not places for politicking,” board member Renier Diaz de la Portilla said.
Mrs. Obama is expected to address grassroots supporters and volunteers, as well as recruit voters to reelect her husband.
De la Portilla says there’s no room for that in public schools. He is a Republican running for the Florida House of Representatives, but says this is not a partisan issue.
“We have welcomed elected officials in our public schools for years. But never, that I can recall in recent memory, have we used it to host a political rally to recruit volunteers for a campaign that’s in November,” said de la Portilla, who represents District 5.
Board member Carlos Curbelo of District 7 is with de la Portilla. He sent an letter to the school board attorney asking the district to immediately reconsider allowing public schools to be used by campaigns.
“Going forward we should turn away any candidate or campaign that wishes to use our facilities – paid for and maintained by the public – for personal and political gain,” Curbelo wrote.
John Schuster, the Miami-Dade public schools’ chief communications officer, said the district is leasing out the gym where the first lady will speak to grassroots supporters on Tuesday. That’s in line with the district’s policy, he said.
De la Portilla is proposing to change the existing policy.
"I’m going to propose a policy that extends to every elected official in the state of Florida and the United States that you cannot use or manipulate our public schools, taxpayer-funded public schools, taxpayer-funded public facilities, for political events,” he said.
Other school board members are welcoming the visit with open arms.
“The first lady's visit is nothing short of a wonderful opportunity for students and all members of our community to be active citizens and make our voices heard,” said Wilbert “Tee” Holloway, who represents District 1, in a statement.