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Four members of the Broward County School Board in Florida have been suspended by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for “a pattern of emboldening unacceptable behavior, including fraud and mismanagement.”

Four members of the Broward County School Board in Florida have been suspended by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for “a pattern of emboldening unacceptable behavior, including fraud and mismanagement.”

Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson have all been suspended from the board, effective immediately. DeSantis has appointed Torey Alston, Manual “Nandy” A. Serrano, Ryan Reiter, and Kevin Tynan as interim members in their stead.

“It is my duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance,” DeSantis said in a statement. “This action is in the best interest of the residents and students of Broward County and all citizens of Florida.”

In February 2018, following the horrible school massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, DeSantis suspended the members at the request of a grand jury that had been convened by the state supreme court. The grand jury was tasked with determining if instances of fraud or mismanagement may have led to security and safety breaches at local schools.

The grand jury determined that school safety had allegedly been “such a low priority” for the suspended board members that an alarm that may have saved lives at MSD “remains uninstalled at several campuses.”

In addition, according to the grand jury findings, “children continue to be educated in hazardous, aged, dilapidated, and moldy buildings that were intended to be refurbished years ago.”

Even more, the grand jury asserted that the suspended board members habitually disregarded their responsibilities in order to enhance their brands.

“Broward County has provided a cornucopia of examples of an almost fanatical desire to control data and use it to manipulate public perception, including that surrounding safety,” the grand jury report states. The suspended members “are seemingly obsessed with the optics of any situation and control of public impressions of their activities.”

Critics of the grand jury, however, assert that its report focuses mostly on the SMART Program, a 2014 voter-approved public safety program meant to enhance campus safety. The study covers the escalating program expenses as well as several dubious judgments made by the accused board members and former superintendent Robert Runcie. Critics assert that the grand jury’s myopic concentration on the SMART Program wasted time and energy away from its primary objective, which was to investigate the events and district’s actions leading up to the MSD tragedy.

“It is disgusting that on the backs of these families to have a bait-and-switch grand jury,” said Levinson, one of the suspended board members. “The majority of the report has nothing to do with Marjory Stoneman Douglas.”

Levinson’s term limit prevents him from running for reelection. However, fellow suspended board member Korn is now running for re-election, and she stated last week, “While I respect the grand jury process, I stand behind my record.”

The grand jury also implicated former board member Rosalind Osgood and would have undoubtedly recommended her punishment if she were still a board member.

Former superintendent Runcie resigned after being charged with allegedly lying before a grand jury. He has entered a not guilty plea, but the date of his trial is unknown.

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