DeSantis suspends 4 Broward school board members named in grand jury report

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended four Broward school board members after a grand jury report accused them of “deceit, malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty and incompetence” and recommended their removal from office.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended four Broward school board members after a grand jury report accused them of “deceit, malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty and incompetence” and recommended their removal from office.

In a statement, the governor’s office said Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray and Laurie Rich Levinson were being suspended “due to their incompetence, neglect of duty, and misuse of authority.”

“Even four years after the events of February 14, 2018, the final report of the Grand Jury found that a safety-related alarm that could have possibly saved lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ‘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,’” the statement reads. “These are inexcusable actions by school board members who have shown a pattern of emboldening unacceptable behavior, including fraud and mismanagement, across the district.”

Also in a statement, DeSantis said it was his “duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance.”

“The findings of the Statewide Grand Jury affirm the work of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Commission,” he said. “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. This action is in the best interest of the residents and students of Broward County and all citizens of Florida.”

DeSantis appointed four replacements:

  • Torey Alston, former Commissioner of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners and President of Indelible Solutions
  • Manual “Nandy” A. Serrano, member of the Florida Sports Foundation Board of Directors, and CEO and Founder of Clubhouse Private Wealth
  • Ryan Reiter, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Director of Government Relations for Kaufman Lynn Construction
  • Kevin Tynan, Attorney with Richardson and Tynan, who previously served on the Broward County School Board and South Broward Hospital District

Korn was the first of the four suspended school board members to publicly respond to the news. She released a statement to Local 10 News.

“I am very disappointed in the Governor’s decision to once again put politics above education in Broward County,” Korn said in part. “Despite the Governor’s actions, Broward voters still have the right and power to decide for themselves who should represent them on the school board.”

Levinson excoriated DeSantis following the decision. In a statement to Local 10 News, she called the move “un-American and undemocratic.”

“This is all about political retribution for not firing Superintendent Runcie. It’s about blaming the Superintendent, and any School Board Members who supported him, for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting,” Levinson said in part. “All four Board Members were elected by the people multiple times, including post tragedy. My heart will always go out to all the families and community.”

Levinson went on to say: “Because you may disagree on local policy decisions is not a reason to remove someone from elected office. Governor DeSantis impaneled a Grand Jury, under the guise of school safety, as a pretext to remove School Board Members who did not fire the former Superintendent. Do future Board Members need to pre-clear their votes with DeSantis? Could future Democratic Governors now remove locally elected Republicans?”

Broward County Public Schools also responded to DeSantis’ announcement.

“Broward County Public Schools is in receipt of the Governor’s Executive Order 22-202,” spokesperson John J. Sullivan said. “As our District undergoes this transition, we remain focused on the operations of our schools and our commitment to our Student First approach to provide a great educational experience to all students.”

About the Authors:

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.

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.