“It is my duty to suspend individuals from their positions where there is clear evidence of incompetence, dereliction of duty, misconduct or wrongdoing,” DeSantis said in a statement. “This action is in the best interests of Broward County residents and students and all citizens of Florida.”
Parkland’s grand jury, in a 2021 report released last week, said five board members — Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray, Laurie Rich Levinson and Rosalind Osgood — along with top district leaders ‘have to go’ after reviewing their performance on a massive school links program aimed at making schools and other areas safer. Mandated by DeSantis, the grand jury was called in to investigate school safety in Florida after a sniper in 2018 shot 34 people, killing 17 at Stoneman Douglas.
“What Governor DeSantis did is un-American and undemocratic. He doesn’t care about democracy and has subverted the will of voters,” Levinson said in a statement. “This action is high-handed and has no place in the United States of America where voters decide who represents them.”
The Broward Bond Project, approved by voters about four years before the Parkland shooting, was expected to be completed by the end of 2021 for $987 million, but is now estimated to be completed in 2025 for nearly $1.5 billion, according to the grand jury, which questioned whether the district would even meet that deadline. The grand jury claimed the board members failed to hold school officials accountable and were criticized for “deceit, malfeasance, misconduct, dereliction of duty and incompetence.”
“We applaud the Governor’s action to follow Florida’s 20 recommendatione State grand jury and remove Broward school board members – citing their gross negligence, misconduct, malfeasance and incompetence caused many aspects of the tragic date that claimed Marjory Stoneman’s life to be mishandled Douglas,” Stand said with Parkland Chairman Tony Montalto in a statement.
Of the four incumbent school board members examined in the report, Levinson and Murray’s terms are due to expire in November and neither is seeking re-election.
Korn is pursuing another term and is now in a runoff for the seat; Good’s term is set to expire in 2024.
Osgood, meanwhile, is now a state senator and “therefore not subject to the governor’s executive suspension authority,” according to the DeSantis administration.
To replace board members, DeSantis named Torey Alston, Manual “Nandy” A. Serrano, Ryan Reiter and Kevin Tynan. It’s unclear which appointment is associated with each separate term on the board.
Alston previously served as chief of staff at the Florida Department of Transportation during the DeSantis administration. And DeSantis previously appointed him to the Broward County commission.
Serrano is a board member of the Florida Sports Foundation and CEO and founder of Clubhouse Private Wealth, a financial advisory firm.
Reiter is a US Marine Corps veteran and director of government relations for Kaufman Lynn Construction in Delray Beach.
Tynan, an attorney at Richardson and Tynan, previously served on the Broward County School Board.