On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis removed four school board members from the Broward County school board after the Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury recommended they be suspended.
The grand jury was selected to investigate a 2018 school massacre, which accused the board members along with district administrators of “deceit, malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty and incompetence” in relation to their management of a campus safety program.
DeSantis signed an executive order which suspended school board members Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson. Each board member can appeal their suspension to the senate.
DeSantis made a statement four years after the shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead, where he expressed his frustration that the school board had failed to install an adequate fire alarm system with a 40-second delay which would allow staff to check if there’s an emergency and avoid students walking directly into the path of an active shooter.
DeSantis also said that some Broward students “continue to be educated in unsafe, aging, decrepit, moldy buildings that were supposed to have been renovated years ago.”
Broward County is Florida’s sixth-largest district, with over 270,000 students at 333 campuses, and an annual budget of $4 billion.
“These are inexcusable actions by school board members who have shown a pattern of emboldening unacceptable behavior, including fraud and mismanagement, across the district,” DeSantis said.
Laurie Levinson, who was scheduled to leave her position at the end of the year after deciding not to seek re-election, blasted DeSantis for his actions.
“What Governor DeSantis did is un-American and undemocratic. He doesn’t care about democracy and overturned the will of the voters,” Levinson said in a statement. She also claimed that DeSantis wants to remove anyone who supported former Superintendent Robert Runcie and blame the shooting on them.
“All four Board Members were elected by the people multiple times, including post tragedy. My heart will always go out to all the families and community,” Levinson wrote.
The Broward County shooter, Nikolas Cruz, is on trial and is waiting to learn whether he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or be given the death penalty.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: SUN-SENTINEL.COM
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