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GET OUT! DeSantis removes school board members following Parkland shooting report

Republican Ron DeSantis is so mad he just fired a bunch of people from the School Board for not doing their jobs.

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended four elected school-board officials Friday following the release of a report on the 2018 Parkland school shooting,” Axios reported on Saturday.

It’s rare for elected officials to be forcibly removed from their positions. DeSantis already replaced an elected official from office earlier this month

DeSantis was concerned about incompetence” when they implemented safety measures in the county’s schools, the Washington Post reported.

The grand jury said in its investigation report, which was released last week, that the Broward school board officials failed to use an $800 million bond to help provide safety upgrades to schools in the county.

The jury — which launched the investigation after the Parkland shooting in 2018 — recommended the officials be replaced.

Driving the news: DeSantis removed the elected school board officials “due to their incompetence, neglect of duty and misuse of authority,” the governor said in a statement.

The governor then appointed four new people to their positions.
DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to Axios’ request for comment.
What they’re saying: “It is my duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We are grateful to the members of the jury who have dedicated countless hours to this mission and we hope this suspension brings the Parkland community another step towards justice.”

The big picture: DeSantis suspended Andrew Warren, a Democratic official who said his office would not prosecute cases tied to abortion or anti-transgender laws, Axios Tampa Bay previously reported.

“State Attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda,” DeSantis said in a statement at the beginning of August.
DeSantis said the governor can remove elected officials for “misfeasance, malfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony.”
Warren sued DeSantis over his removal, saying the governor did not identify any conduct that should lead to a suspension, Axios’ Erin Doherty reports.

From DeSantis report:

Governor Ron DeSantis Suspends Four Broward School Board Members from Office
On August 26, 2022, in News Releases

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Broward School Board Members Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson from office following the recommendations of the Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury to suspend these board members due to their incompetence, neglect of duty, and misuse of authority.

Even four years after the events of February 14, 2018, the final report of the Grand Jury found that a safety-related alarm that could have possibly saved lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “was and is such a low priority that it remains uninstalled at multiple schools,” and “students continue to be educated in unsafe, aging, decrepit, moldy buildings that were supposed to have been renovated years ago.”

These are inexcusable actions by school board members who have shown a pattern of emboldening unacceptable behavior, including fraud and mismanagement, across the district.

These suspensions are effective immediately. To read Executive Order 22-202, click here.

“It is my duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “The findings of the Statewide Grand Jury affirm the work of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Commission.

We are grateful to the members of the jury who have dedicated countless hours to this mission and we hope this suspension brings the Parkland community another step towards justice. This action is in the best interest of the residents and students of Broward County and all citizens of Florida.”

Today, Governor DeSantis also made four appointments to the Broward County School Board in the place of the four suspended members:

Torey Alston, former Commissioner of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners and President of Indelible Solutions;
Manual “Nandy” A. Serrano, member of the Florida Sports Foundation Board of Directors, and CEO and Founder of Clubhouse Private Wealth;
Ryan Reiter, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Director of Government Relations for Kaufman Lynn Construction; and
Kevin Tynan, Attorney with Richardson and Tynan, who previously served on the Broward County School Board and South Broward Hospital District.

The Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury was impaneled by the Florida Supreme Court in February 2019, following the tragic loss of 17 individuals at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one year prior.

The Statewide Grand Jury was asked to examine four issues, including whether public entities and school officials committed fraud and deceit by mismanaging funds devoted to school safety.

In its final report, the statewide grand jury found that these board members mismanaged the SMART Program, a multimillion-dollar bond specifically solicited for school safety and renovation initiatives.

The Statewide Grand Jury also found that the Board was aware of serious problems with the SMART Program, including former Superintendent Runcie’s inability or unwillingness to manage those problems, yet did not take action.

In concluding and issuing its final report, the Statewide Grand Jury recommended the suspension of four current school board members from office. The Statewide Grand Jury also mentioned a now-former fifth school board member, Rosalind Osgood, who is no longer working as a school board member, and is therefore not subject to the Governor’s executive suspension authority.

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