Changes coming to Miami-Dade school board after wins by 2 DeSantis-endorsed candidates

A major shakeup is coming to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Board following Tuesday’s election.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – While he was not on the school board ballot, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis can claim victory after two of the candidates he endorsed won their races in Miami-Dade.

Monica Colucci and Roberto Alonso came up on top in their respective District 8 and District 4 contests.

Colucci beat incumbent Marta Perez, who held the seat for more than two decades.

On Wednesday, given Colucci’s victory to the school board in the fourth largest district in America, Local 10 News naturally wanted to get a sense of how she plans to move forward as the newly elected school board member.

David Custin, a political consultant who is handling both Colucci and Alonso’s campaigns, told Local 10 reporter Hatzel Vela that interviews with the newly elected school board members would not occur Wednesday and said he would reply by e-mail to schedule a date and time convenient for his clients.

As with any political story, Local 10 News went to Colucci’s southwest Miami-Dade home with hopes of speaking to the candidate herself.

Outside the home, Colucci’s husband told Vela that Colucci was not available and a time would have to be set up.

When seeing the camera, Colucci’s husband retreated inside the home.

The visit to Colucci’s home was followed by a phone call from Custin, who berated the reporter for simply visiting the candidate’s home, which is not uncommon during news gathering, especially after an election.

“We don’t march to the beat of your drum,” Custin said in a text, after it was explained to him the interview with Colucci and Alonso would be newsworthy Wednesday, the day after the election.

Local 10 News did have a chance to interview Perez, who lost the race and described her experience this campaign season as “hell.”

But the long time public servant said, “I leave on the highest note: A-rated school district.”

Perez, a Republican and self-described moderate conservative, says she cannot recall a similar race.

“The degree of intimidation and nastiness and lies, outright lies,” said Perez, who dissected political flyers filled with “inaccurate and stupid” information.

Cuban-born Perez said the current political atmosphere reminds her of Cuba and the days of Fulgencio Batista and Fidel Castro, when you were persecuted for not agreeing politically with others.

“It’s extremism at its peak,” she said. “If you have a different thought or opinion, you are ostracized and you better be in lock step with what comandante wants.”

In this case the comandante she believes is fellow Republican Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez, who is behind a political action committee that built a website for the purposes of solely attacking Perez.

During the campaign, Colucci made “indoctrination in schools” part of her platform.

Perez rejects the notion.

As for the future of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Board, Perez fears her loss could affect other school board members publicly handle controversial issues.

“I think some board members will say I better behave or I’ll get the same treatment,” she said.


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.