Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has suspended four Broward County School Board members for “incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance” as detailed by a grand jury empaneled after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
A fifth member, Rosalind Osgood, was also recommended for suspension, but resigned in March to run for state Senate.
Citing the grand jury’s findings that a safety alarm with the potential to save lives “was and is such a low priority that it remains uninstalled at multiple schools” and “students continue to be educated in unsafe, aging, decrepit, moldy buildings that were supposed to have been renovated years ago,” DeSantis decided to suspend the four and appoint four replacements.
“It is my duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance,” the Sunshine State governor said. “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,” he continued.
DeSantis’s office also said the school board members committed “inexcusable actions” and showed a “pattern of emboldening unacceptable behavior, including fraud and mismanagement, across the district.”
The governor appointed former Commissioner of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners and President of Indelible Solutions, Tory Alston; Florida Sports Foundation Board of Directors member and CEO and Founder of Clubhouse Private Wealth, Manual “Nandy” A. Serrano; U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Director of Government Relations for Kaufman Lynn Construction, Ryan Reiter; and attorney with Richardson and Tynan and former Broward County School Board and South Broward Hospital District member, Kevin Tynan.
Florida’s Supreme Court empaneled the grand jury in the wake of the Parkland shooting to investigate whether the school board members committed fraud and deceit by mismanaging funds.
It found that the board was aware of issues with the SMART program but that Superintendent Robert Runcie was unwilling to act.
The suspended board members were part of the majority that supported Runcie, who was ultimately indicted by the grand jury in April 2021.
The grand jury noted many issues with Runcie, including the mismanagement of an $800 million bond referendum and failing to renovate schools, delaying the installation of fire alarms, Runcie’s frequent lies to the school board and the public, and “an almost fanatical desire” the school board manifested to manage its image and “feel that they are at war with the local media.”
Florida’s August 23 primary elections saw multiple school board elections flip boards from liberal to conservative, including Miami-Dade County’s, which is now the largest school district in the country with a conservative majority.
Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.