On Friday, four and a half years after the horrific massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis suspended four Broward School Board members following the recommendations of the Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury.
DeSantis suspended Broward School Board Members Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson.
In his executive order, DeSantis pointed out “district school board members are constitutionally elected as provided by law to ‘operate, control and supervise all free schools within the school district.’” He added that Florida statute requires school boards to pay “proper attention to health, safety and other matters relating to the welfare of students.”
DeSantis cited the report from the Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury found that the board members, “through fraud and deceit,” had mismanaged the SMART Program, a multi-million bond specifically solicited for school safety and renovation initiatives, and would likely continue to do so.
He also stated that the board members were lax in holding former Superintendent Robert Runcie and former general counsel Barbara Myrick, who were both indicted for felonies related to their appearances before the Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury, accountable.
The report also stated 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” in Broward County, adding that “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,” DeSantis stated.
“It is my duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance,” he continued. “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.”
“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,” DeSantis noted. “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.”
DeSantis appointed four new members for the school board: 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; 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.