Four elected school board members were placed on administrative leave by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) on Friday after a grand jury ruled that they had implemented safety measures at schools in Broward County negligently and incompetently and recommended their removal.
A massacre that left 17 people dead in 2018 at a high school in Parkland, Florida, served as the impetus for the grand jury probe. The Broward school board mismanaged a program funded by an $800 million bond and failed to complete promised projects, including safety modifications to its schools, according to the grand jury’s report, which was published last week.
DeSantis said in a statement, “It is my obligation to suspend anyone from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance, or wrongdoing.” “We hope that this suspension puts the Parkland community another step closer to justice and we are grateful to the jury members for their long hours of service,” the statement reads.
The sixth-largest school district in the nation, Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, is in charge of around 260,000 kids. Families of school shooting victims applauded the decision to forcibly remove elected officials from office, but it also provoked criticism of political overreach.
Patricia Good, Donna P. Korn, Ann Murray, and Laurie Rich Levinson were all removed from the board by DeSantis. (The jury also suggested that a fifth board member be dismissed; this individual was later elected to the state Senate.) Despite the fact that positions on school boards are nonpartisan, all of the elected people DeSantis ousted are Democrats. Many of their successors were involved in Republican politics.
What nation is this? According to Levinson, who was quoted by the Miami Herald, “What Gov. DeSantis did is un-American and undemocratic.” “Disagreement with local policy decisions should not be used as justification to remove an elected official,” A Democratic county prosecutor who had been elected earlier this month was also fired by DeSantis for refusing to pursue certain cases involving abortion and care for transgender people; the official is now suing for his or her reinstatement.
DeSantis has established himself in conservative circles by getting involved in problems like the teaching of racial and LGBTQ issues in schools. He is viewed as a potential Republican presidential nominee for 2024. More than a dozen local elections earlier this week saw victories for conservative candidates who supported his educational agenda. According to Florida educational systems expert William Bainbridge, the governor’s action “is exceedingly unprecedented.” “My worry is whether the criminal activity taking on here is a pretext for Ron DeSantis to choose people who share his views,”
With triumphs over “anti-woke” school boards, DeSantis exercises his clout. Family members of the victims of the 2018 shooting praised DeSantis for holding the government accountable. According to Tony Montalto, head of the advocacy group Stand With Parkland, which is made up of the families of the victims, “they directly affected decisions that produced a lack of discipline and let our children and wives be slain.” “Their failure to do their duties resulted in the deaths that took place… It’s not political, that.
Following the incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Florida Supreme Court was requested by DeSantis to appoint a grand jury. The panel was requested to look into any instances of school districts accepting state funding for improved safety measures without properly putting such measures into place. In Broward County, the projected projects turned out to be much more expensive than the school board had anticipated, according to the report.
The study revealed that “students continue to receive an education in hazardous, old, dilapidated, and moldy buildings that were supposed to have been repaired years ago.” The grand jury noted that “district officials frequently behave as though they have no interest in even comprehending the realities of its schools, reminding us nothing so much as the proverbial herd of ostriches burying their heads to avoid reality.”
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