Wilton Manors

School Field Trip to Wilton Manors Bar and Grill Sparks Criticism

Broward school board member says she received death threats after trip

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An elementary school field trip to a popular bar and grill in Wilton Manors is causing controversy, leading to a state investigation and reported death threats against a school board member.

The uproar began when Broward County Public Schools board member Sarah Leonardi posted photos on social media Wednesday of the Wilton Manors Elementary School field trip to Rosie's Bar and Grill.

The LGBTQ-owned eatery is known for its racy menu but chaperones, including the mayor of Wilton Manors, said special child-appropriate menus were used for the field trip.

Broward County Public Schools officials said the trip was part of teaching students about neighborhood safety, community helpers, and the importance of being a community member.

"The bar and restaurant was not open to the general public while students were present inside. When the business opened, students transitioned to a separate, outside location to order and eat their meals," the district said in a statement. "They learn about the types of jobs involved in operating a restaurant, how to pay for their meal, and how to leave a tip for the service they receive."

Nevertheless, Leonardi said she's received bigoted comments and death threats since posting photos of the trip.

"Sadly, I've recently been attacked with bigoted comments and death threats. My friends, family, and church have also been targeted," Leonardi said in a statement. "These attacks have no place in our society. The threats have been referred to the appropriate authorities, and I will continue to work hard to engage with my community, spread positivity, and represent my district on the school board."

On Friday, a Florida Department of Education investigator was going to the school to investigate, the Sun Sentinel reported.

Earlier Friday, a group of about a dozen parents and former teachers were outside the school to show their support for the principal and restaurant.

"This is absolutely nothing controversial about this whatsoever, it is an educational experience with part of the community that supports our local school, and frankly I'm very upset that it's getting this type of attention," supporter David Comras said.

Rosie's has hosted the field trip for about a decade.

“It’s terribly sad that it’s blowing up in this way. It’s taking such a nice event and putting ugly labels on it and stereotypes and it’s very troubling," said Rosie's owner, John Zieba.

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