Gov. Ron DeSantis is removing more local elected officials from office, this time on the recommendation of a grand jury.
DeSantis announced Friday he is removing Broward County School Board members Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson. They serve the nation’s sixth-largest school district and second-largest in Florida.
A grand jury investigating school safety issues in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County recommended that the school board members be removed. The grand jury accused the elected officials of “incompetence and neglect of duty.”
“We recommend that the Governor remove them from their elected offices,” the grand jury report states.
DeSantis immediately appointed four people to replace the suspended school board members:
Torey Alston, a former Broward County commissioner and president of Indelible Solutions;
Manual “Nandy” A. Serrano, a member of the Florida Sports Foundation Board of Directors, and CEO and Founder of Clubhouse Private Wealth;
Ryan Reiter, a U.S. Marine veteran and Director of Government Relations for Kaufman Lynn Construction;
Kevin Tynan, an attorney who previously served on the Broward County School Board and South Broward Hospital District.
DeSantis attracted national attention earlier this month when he removed 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Andrew Warren, the chief prosecutor for Hillsborough County, from office after calling him “woke” and accusing him of refusing to enforce certain laws.
Warren — who twice was elected by voters — accused DeSantis of “trying to overthrow democracy here in Hillsborough County” and has been fighting his removal.
Many on the left have complained about how DeSantis treated Warren, arguing it was more about partisan politics than upholding the law.
Having a grand jury report to back up his decision could generate less backlash for DeSantis when it comes to removing the Broward School Board members.
In 2019, DeSantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for his department’s failings in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a year earlier.
A special master appointed by the state Senate to investigate the action concluded that DeSantis failed to show enough evidence to require Israel’s removal for the failures of his deputies and urged that he be reinstated.
But the Republican-controlled Senate went along and sided with the governor and removed Israel. DeSantis, while campaigning in 2018, had vowed to remove Israel from office, if elected.
Israel was the highest-profile official to be removed by the Senate since 2005, when senators tossed out Broward County Elections Supervisor Miriam Oliphant, suspended by then-Gov. Jeb Bush for a host of election problems.
DeSantis replaced Warren with Susan Lopez, a Hillsborough County judge who was appointed to the bench by DeSantis in 2021 and previously served as a prosecutor for 15 years in the 13th Judicial Circuit.
Follow Herald-Tribune Political Editor Zac Anderson on Twitter at @zacjanderson. He can be reached at [email protected]
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